Tech vs. Trees: Stora Enso and Modvion aim to expand wood use in wind energy, several organizations turning urban tree waste into sustainable furniture, designer upcycles wood waste and cocoa bean husks into acoustic wall tiles

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LOS ANGELES , June 17, 2022 () –

A roundup of recent trends pitting technology against the printed word:

Trees: Stora Enso and Modvion aim to expand wood use in wind energy

Wind energy is one major way to support sustainability, and Stora Enso and Modvion aim to make this renewable energy even greener by expanding the use of wood to produce its turbine towers. The towers are made from laminated veneer lumber (LVL), which can reduce carbon emissions by 90% and is stronger than steel proportionate to its weight, according to a May 25 release from Stora Enso, which is a supplier of LVL. In contrast, the production of towers from steel can have a sizable carbon footprint and require additional reinforcement to carry the extra weight, according to Swedish tower builder Modvion, Good News Network reported June 14. Moreover, the wood towers are built in lightweight modules, enabling taller towers that can reach stronger winds. Currently, Modvion is building a 330-foot wood turbine tower for Sweden’s Varberg Energi, Treehugger reported June 2. “To solve the climate crisis, we need more renewable energy as well as increased use of sustainable, wooden constructions,” said Otto Lundman, CEO of Modvion.

 

Trees: Several organizations turning urban tree waste into sustainable furniture

Trees don’t usually spring to mind when it comes to urban waste, but they amount to an annual average of 36 million trees that have fallen or been cut down across US cities. With many trees directed to landfills, several organizations are aiming to save them and use the wood waste to create products like furniture, flooring and compost, Next City reported May 27. About 40% of the wood can be upcycled in such a way, said J. Morgan Grove, a research forester with USDA Forest Service, who added, “More wood from cities goes into landfills than is harvested from US National Forests.” One of these urban tree-saving organizations is New York-based Cambium Carbon, which has formed a national network of producers and buyers to purchase locally salvaged wood, and it’s also launching a furniture line with Philadelphia company Sabai Design. “If we recycled all the trees that came down in US cities each year, roughly 20 million tons of carbon could be kept out of the atmosphere,” said Cambium CEO Ben Christensen.

 

Trees: Designer upcycles wood waste and cocoa bean husks into acoustic wall tiles

Innovators around the world have discovered a variety of creative applications for wood waste, from creating furniture (see above story) to briquettes and even nutritional supplements. A British designer isn’t just adding acoustic wall tiles to that list of products, but has also found a way to incorporate agricultural waste in his innovation. Called HexBix, the acoustic wall tiles are made from wood shavings and cocoa bean husks and bonded with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), Design Milk reported June 7. Though PVA can biodegrade under certain conditions, the use of the bonding agent prevents the tiles from being a fully circular product. Henry Swanzy, the creator of the wall tiles, is exploring alternatives like natural starches and aims to create a product that can go back into the circular economy. So far, the tiles have received a positive reception at London’s Clerkenwell Design Week in May, including interest from architects, interior designers and retailers. 

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Dan Rivard
- VP Market Development -

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