Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 09 February 2022
The Modern Construction Waste Solution

Sankofa Lumber, a minority-woman-owned business founded by Valerie Carey, is on a mission to close the loop on wood waste from construction projects in the Portland area. This 100% recycled wood product is FSC certified and available to the building industry through a creative partnership with Sustainable Northwest Wood.

Sankofa focuses on reclaiming high volumes of wood waste generated by new construction, rather than salvaging old-growth lumber from deconstructed buildings. This means the recycled lumber they provide through Sustainable Northwest Wood was originally milled to modern nominal dimensions, fitting seamlessly with the virgin FSC framing lumber SNWW also offers.

Valerie works with local waste haulers and construction teams to support efforts to reduce waste, conserve natural resources and save time on the jobsite. She helps determine the best way to capture reusable wood waste onsite on a project-by-project basis. Her processing facility sorts, de-nails, and defect-chops truckloads of wood debris into standardized, usable lengths. Sankofa then sells it downstream as pre-cut blocking, framing lumber in 3’, 4’, 6’+ lengths for rough openings, headers, temporary bracing, forms and other common applications that utilize short lengths. Although Sankofa receives some standard lengths of 8’, 10’, and 12’, most of what they process from the waste stream is shorter than 8’. Luckily, most of the lumber used in construction is also shorter than 8’, so it’s important to educate the market to think outside of the “eight-foot box.”

The team at Sustainable Northwest Wood has worked with Valerie for several years, sharing insights, advice and support during the discovery phase of Sankofa. They did their due diligence by meeting residential and commercial builders to learn of the challenges their product could address. SNWW President and founder Ryan Temple and his team partnered with Sankofa for three key reasons:

1. To reduce the staggering amount of building materials that end up in landfills or as boiler fuel
2. To complement its wood from FSC certified forests with a recycled product that decreases the pressure on carbon sequestering forests
3. To support a powerful female entrepreneur making a positive impact in the industry

Sustainable Northwest Wood has since worked with Sankofa to incorporate this recycled lumber into their retail operations. They maintain inventory in their woodyard in SE Portland for on-site sales, but the greatest impact for this partnership is providing lumber package orders that can be a blend of virgin and recycled FSC lumber. While the partnership focuses on larger scale building and construction projects, this product is available to anyone looking for climate-smart solutions to reduce their own footprint.

For more information on diverting wood waste visit

To purchase Sankofa’s recycled, FSC-certified product visit