Cutting Edge: Citilog Upcycling and Zero Waste in Newark

On Tuesday, July 31, 2012,  Mayor Cory A. Booker and other dignitaries held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of CitiLog’s urban sawmill, at 82-88 Springdale Avenue, in Newark’s North Ward. CitiLog was developed around the concept of “Upcycling,” which is the practice of taking something that is considered waste and turning it into something of greater use or value, in their case, urban logs. CitiLog is working with the New Jersey State Parole Board and the City of Newark’s prisoner re-entry program to provide free training and job opportunities for formerly incarcerated residents who are trying to learn a trade and transition into the workforce as a productive citizen. The facility is expected to employ up to 40 people.  Stephanie Greenwood, Sustainability Officer sheds light on the significance of Citilog’s  work in this blog.

Zero Waste means looking at everything as a potential resource. You get as close as you can to throwing nothing away. This is cutting edge not just for Newark, but nationally in terms of sustainable business practices.

A Zero Waste approach is one key component of Newark’s Sustainability agenda, which, under the leadership and vision of Mayor Booker, seeks to move toward an urban environment that supports the health and prosperity of all members of the community.

The transformative thing about Zero Waste is that everything is on the table. It pushes you way past ordinary conservation goals toward the kind of change we need to turn our environment and economy around. Citilog’s basic business model is to re-purpose old trees into new products. They take all the costs of hauling and disposing of old wood – including dollars charged to municipalities or the private sector, the health costs from the diesel pollution of trucks on our streets, and the serious costs we and our children and grandchildren will pay from climate change caused in part by letting wood release methane from our landfills –  take all those costs and zero them out and turn them into benefits. Jobs. New products. A revitalized site that’s no longer a contaminated eyesore for the neighbors.

That’s already pretty great. But that’s not where they stop. Because they’re looking for Zero Waste. So they say, let’s make all our electricity on-site and sell some back to the grid. They say, let’s capture all our rain water and use it to run our plumbing. They’re talking about growing vegetables in a rooftop greenhouse and using the extra heat from the kiln that dries wood to encourage local artists to take up pottery. Anyone who uses the facilities back there knows that they’re not wasting *anything* on this site.

One of the most important ways they’re rejecting the idea of waste is their commitment to local hiring and to working with youth coming back from incarceration. This is a powerful way to live out the idea that everything and everyone has value. Nothing and no one deserves to be thrown away. In fact, we can’t afford it. We need the talent and energy and ingenuity of all the people in our community. We need the value inherent in all our materials.

So this approach to business really is transformative for our local economy and our environment. It’s a great example of how it’s possible, with our daily activities and the materials we already have on hand, to move toward the goal set by Mayor Booker to make what we do here in Newark a model of urban transformation for the nation.

Congratulations to Citilog. We look forward to a long and productive relationship.

This entry was posted in City of Newark, Open Space & Natural Resources, Trees, Waste Management and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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