A Hong Kong Company is Fashioning Furniture from Tree Waste

The growl of a chainsaw fills the air as a dead longan tree is felled under the watchful eye of Ricci Wong, the founder of a Hong Kong nonprofit that turns tree waste into furniture and other household products. Farmers and arborists who work with private companies or government departments call the group to collect the wood if they discover fallen or dying trees that need to be removed.

Wong founded HK Timberbank after Typhoon Mangkhut in September 2018, a violent storm that uprooted tens of thousands of trees on the territory when he saw that what was landfilled was usable.

“Fresh, clean and healthy wood is also thrown away due to construction work or after storms. Most of the wood was a lot more usable than we imagined, ”he said.

HK Timberbank collected more than 300 tons of trees for recycling in Hong Kong last year, most of which would otherwise have been dumped in landfills due to rot or insect infestation.

Wong and his partners store the wood at an industrial site in the city’s New Territories, where they have an inventory of over 80 species of trees that can be used as raw material for furniture, cutting boards, clocks, coasters, and art.

According to Wong, it takes three to four months to make each piece of furniture, from drying the wood to designing and crafting the items with professional woodworking tools.

During a recent showcase, a customer said she was excited about her new coffee table.

“It’s not too complicated or sophisticated,” said Sharon Ho. “You create mainstream furniture in the simplest possible way.”

HK Timberbank hopes to expand operations in the coming years, ultimately reducing the city’s reliance on imported timber.

Hong Kong sends more than 380 tons of wood and rattan to municipal landfills every day, according to government figures.

“We believe we are doing something useful so we have to keep going and we won’t stop until we see results,” said Wong.

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