Ontario company rescues and repurposes trees destined for the mulcher

Lumberyard in City of Toronto

The movement to reclaim wood has gained a lot of traction in the past few years. This process involves taking previously used wood, restoring it, and making it into new and beautiful furniture and other structures. But an Ontario-based company is taking the idea one step further. Sawmill Sid is an organization that rescues logs that are slated to be chipped down and used as mulch, and sawing them into usable lumber that is then sold to furniture-makers and other manufacturers that need it.

The trees that the company rescues have fallen to disease or storm damage. Usually, the city has to deal with these trees, at substantial costs.

“The city currently pays $130 [per ton] on average . . . to have these logs milled into mulch for landfill. Considering that the city cut down 20,000 trees last year, the cost of disposing of them adds up. Sawmill Sid turns what is currently a liability into a profit.

Sawmill Sid pays one to four dollars per metric ton of lumber that it chooses from city yards. “There’s a lot of value to [the trees],” Gendron told the National Post. “But you know what? There’s zero value until it’s put on the sawmill.”

Sawmill Sid therefore uses the sawmill to create useful cuts of wood out of the discarded lumber. The idea was born when Gendron’s home in Simcoe County burned down more than 15 years ago, and insurance didn’t cover the damage. Gendron’s wife, Sheila Gendron, bought a portable sawmill, and they began rebuilding. “We had no money,” Sheila Gendron told the Toronto Star. “We learned how to repurpose things.”

“This feels like a good use of an existing resource that otherwise would be chipped or turned into mulch,” says Dustin Wood of Weston Forest, a company that buys the lumber from Sawmill Sid and sells it to manufacturers. “Otherwise we would be using logs that are felled in the forest.”

Overall, the business is an environmental economic win, and Toronto is trying to encourage other green businesses with a two-year pilot project called the Green Market Acceleration Program. As Rob McMonagle, a Sector Development Officer on the project, told the National Post, “We’re open for business. You submit a proposal, we will look at it.”