Treated lumber is great for standing up to the Wisconsin outdoors, but everything eventually breaks down – and treated lumber is no exception.

So how do you responsibly dispose of treated lumber?

It’s important to realize what treated lumber is. First and foremost, it’s not just wood – it’s been specially treated to make it resistant to both weather and bugs. And like a lot of “treatments”, that process involves some not-so-natural substances.

Because of this, disposing of treated lumber is different from disposing of regular wood.

  • You can’t burn treated lumber. I mean, you can, but it’s illegal. And you’ll be putting nasty stuff like lead and arsenic into the air. You really don’t want to breathe this stuff!
  • You can’t compost treated lumber. If burning it puts lead and arsenic into the air, composting it will put that stuff into the soil. And since things that grow take what’s in the soil, you’ll have poisoned plants as a result.
  • You can’t recycle treated lumber. There’s no good way to reclaim the lumber once it’s been treated.

We hate having to haul anything off to the landfill, but that’s where treated lumber really belongs. The underlying barrier of a landfill will prevent the nasty chemicals in the treated lumber from finding their way into the environment, our plants, and our drinking water.

When we pick up lumber as part of construction waste, we sort the treated from the non-treated and make sure the treated stuff finds its way to the landfill. Then the non-treated wood is recycled responsibly.