Case Study

Urban Wood Reuse

Ann Arbor, MI: Recycling urban wood for landfill avoidance


credit: Jessica Simons

Recycle Ann Arbor is a nonprofit founded in 1977. They have increased capacity over time, finding new opportunities to divert recyclable waste from landfills.

Ann Arbor, MI

Midwestern humid continental climate influenced by the Great Lakes


73.0% White (70.4% non-Hispanic White), 7.7% African American, 0.3% Native American, 14.4% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race are 4.1% of the population.

The Urbanwood Project began in 2005 as an effort of Recycle Ann Arbor and the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council. The partnership between wood waste generators (tree and landscape services) and a recycler is natural. Tree and landscape companies have wood waste by-products to dispose of, and recyclers find ways to repurpose and reuse materials headed for the waste stream.


In late 2006, the first vendor offered urban wood on consignment on a limited and experimental basis in the Recycle Ann Arbor ReUse Center.

The arrangement turned out to be of interest for both the community and the vendors. Participants and offerings have grown over time and the Center now has nearly 2,000 square feet of urban lumber inventory from five local producers. The Recycle Ann Arbor Urbanwood Marketplace is proud to be the first of its kind in the country to gather producers of reclaimed urban wood products into a shared retail operation.

With the help of the Genesee Conservation District, a second Urbanwood Marketplace at the Genesee County Habitat for Humanity ReStore opened in 2012 to service the Flint region.

A network of tree care companies, mills, designers, fabricators, and other professionals now participate in the Urbanwood network, generating, processing, and producing goods for the marketplace from recycled urban wood. The Urbanwood network is an innovative recycling success story.



  • Recycle Ann Arbor
  •  Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council
  • Genesee Conservation District
  • Genesee County Habitat for Humanity ReStore
Related Resources