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Article

Household Perceptions and Practices of Recycling Tree Debris from Residential Properties

1
Department of Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies, James Madison University, Mountain Hall, 800 S. Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22801, USA
2
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, 310 West Campus Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6476; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166476
Received: 17 July 2020 / Revised: 5 August 2020 / Accepted: 7 August 2020 / Published: 11 August 2020
Thousands of trees are lost in urbanizing areas of Virginia each year to land development, storms, and pests. As a result, large amounts of tree debris, much of which could be suitable for high-value wood products, are flowing from Virginia’s urban forests annually. Finding cost-effective, sustainable strategies for recycling this debris, particularly into durable wood products that keep carbon stored, could benefit the local economy and the local environment throughout the state. To inform outreach and technical assistance efforts of multiple groups across the state, a survey study was conducted in the City of Harrisonburg to determine household perceptions and practices of tree debris recycling. A random sample of owner-occupied, single-family dwellings was contacted using a mixed-mode survey approach to determine why and how trees were removed from the properties in the past and how the debris was disposed of or recycled. Survey responses were received from 189 households, with survey responses pointing toward a strong community sentiment for trees and their care. Nearly all respondents agreed that wood from street trees, park trees, and other neighborhood trees should be recycled into products rather than disposed of in a landfill; however, the majority of households do not currently recycle woody debris from trees removed on these properties. The three most important factors that would facilitate future participation in tree recycling include timely removal of the wood, free curbside pick-up of the wood, and knowledge of who to contact to handle the wood. Overall, these results point to household interest and willingness to participate in wood recycling programs given appropriate information to guide their decisions and local services to facilitate transfer of wood to the municipality or commercial woodworkers. This suggests a need for greater availability of neighborhood or municipal wood recycling programs, ideally coupled with greater education and outreach about the economic and environmental benefits of recovering and utilizing wood from felled trees. View Full-Text
Keywords: household behavior; municipal solid waste; survey; urban forestry; urban wood utilization household behavior; municipal solid waste; survey; urban forestry; urban wood utilization
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schmitt-Harsh, M.L.; Wiseman, E. Household Perceptions and Practices of Recycling Tree Debris from Residential Properties. Sustainability 2020, 12, 6476. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166476

AMA Style

Schmitt-Harsh ML, Wiseman E. Household Perceptions and Practices of Recycling Tree Debris from Residential Properties. Sustainability. 2020; 12(16):6476. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166476

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schmitt-Harsh, Mikaela L., and Eric Wiseman. 2020. "Household Perceptions and Practices of Recycling Tree Debris from Residential Properties" Sustainability 12, no. 16: 6476. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166476

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