Are Wood Cutting Boards Recyclable? (7 Important Facts)

Wood Cutting Boards Recyclable

Whether we can recycle wood cutting boards depends on if the wood is stained and contaminated or pure.

If you have a wooden cutting board at home and you’re wondering what you should do with it, then we’ve got the answers that you need. 

Stained or contaminated cutting boards have foreign materials that are not suitable for recycling. The only wood materials we can recycle are clean timbers, stumps, and untreated wood. Discard any wood cutting boards that are painted or chemically treated.

You can recycle your impure cutting boards into mulch/wood chips or reuse them elsewhere because you don’t mix them with pure wood.

Today’s article takes an in-depth look at wood cutting boards and whether you can recycle them. And if not, what you should do. 

Are Wood Cutting Boards Curbside Recyclable?

No. Paper, cardboard, metal, and glass are the only curbside recyclable materials.

Curbside recycling is the process of placing all garbage materials in a bin for sorting out in a facility. You can recycle some waste materials through a curbside recycling process, but it isn’t wood. 

It’s tedious and time-consuming to differentiate contaminated wood from uncontaminated ones.

And as wooden cutting boards are sometimes stained or treated to prevent them from absorbing moisture, the chemicals used will contaminate the recycling process

If you have wood cutting boards that need recycling, it’s preferable taking them to a wood recycling plant.

Are Your Recycled Wood Cutting Boards Good for the Garden?

Mulch is very fundamental to your garden for various reasons. It suppresses weeds and shields the field from direct sunlight, lowering the evaporation rate and keeping the ground temperature stable. 

The good news is that you can use your recycled wood cutting boards as garden mulch.

You will need to turn the wood cutting boards to sawdust or chips before adding them to other mulch. Additionally, add pre-emergent herbicides to aid in suppressing weeds and pesticides in your garden. 

The only downside of wood cutting board mulch is that it takes longer to decompose and might not provide nutrients for your plant. 

To counter the slow wood decomposition, place other mulch materials such as leaves, hay, or grass in small amounts and then top up with your wood mulch.  

However, the catch is contaminated, stained, or treated wood leaves chromium, copper, and arsenic in small quantities. Though not found in wood cutting boards, these chemicals are not harmful to humans or animals as they’re in minute quantities. 

Treating wood cutting boards with totally safe mineral oils is an excellent idea to prolong their lifespans. You don’t need to worry about the chemical composition of your mulch if it’s exclusively wood cutting board chips.

Can I Put Recycled Wood Cutting Boards in My Compost?

You can add non-toxic wood to a compost heap, but that’s not all to do with wood compost. Wood decomposition is a very slow process that may take up to 4 years. 

If you’re patient enough, you’ll have your compost in good condition after the decomposition period. However, most compost materials take less than a year to decompose.

Don’t put wood compost together with other plant materials compost – wood will delay the process and ultimately outlive the other compost materials.

An example is the corn cobs, husks, stalks, and grass composts that take 90 to 120 days to decompose fully.

Ensure to cut wood chips to very small sizes for wood composts. Preferably less than 2 inches in length – the bigger the wood chips, the slower the decomposition process for wood compost. 

You can add some manure to speed up the process. 

What Do Recycling Companies Do With Recycled Wood Cutting Boards?

Recycling wood reduces the need to cut down more trees. 

In addition to its use as mulch, we can use recycled cutting boards as fuel or for paper production. We can only use pure wood for paper production, whereas the impure wood can serve as pellets or panel boards. 

Furthermore, you can use your wood cutting boards as firewood. Marple, oak, birch, and ash cutting boards will provide the best fire that you can use to either warm yourself or smoke some meat. 

The wood from these trees is non-toxic; you can use them comfortably. 

Where Can You Dispose of Your Unwanted Wood Cutting Boards?

Where to dispose of untreated and treated wood materials varies from community to community. In some communities, it’s okay to put untreated wood together with tree limbs for curbside pickup. 

However, it gets tricky when dealing with kitchen accessories. 

The mineral oils will contaminate the recycling process for wooden cutting boards if you decide to dispose of them at, for example, a paper-making plant. 

The best place to recycle the boards is in your homestead, as you can use them as you wish. If you’re tired of seeing them lying around, the best option is to discard them in your local landfill. 

And if they’re in good condition, you can choose to donate them to a charity organization. 

When To Know That You Need a New Wood Cutting Board?

You may have that wood cutting board that you’ve been using for ages, and you don’t intend on letting it go. If it’s in good condition, ensure that you treat it well and disinfect it periodically. 

There’s no timeline for replacing your cutting board, but the rule of the thumb is once every five years. 

The five-year period may not apply to you if you use the board occasionally or aggressively. Frequent users of cutting boards, such as those that work in the food production industry, may need to replace their wooden cutting boards annually.

If you use your cutting board every once in a while, you can use your wooden board for as long as you desire if it’s in good condition. 

It’s a good time to change your cutting board if you notice that it has some deep knife cuts. Bacteria hides in crevices on the cutting board surface, endangering you and those around you. 

Additionally, I’d recommend using two different wood cutting boards for meat products and vegetables. 

Final Remarks

It may be confusing to some that wood cutting boards are treated and non-recyclable. 

Yes, it’s true because mineral oil contamination hinders the purity of recycled wood products such as paper.

The mineral oils used to treat the wood cutting boards are non-toxic. Regardless, wood cutting boards should be home recycled, donated, or dumped in your local landfill. 

There’s no large-scale recycling of kitchen cutting boards apart from its use as firewood in some industries. 


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