Salvaged vs. reclaimed – What’s the difference

Based on frequent conversations we have with customers, there is a bit of mis-understanding about “GREEN” and what it means and how it is determined. This also applies to using salvaged and reclaimed terms. The bottom line is most anything that is or will be sustainable can carry the “Green” label. We prefer the term sustainable to Green as it is easier to understand and apply.

old beams

mine shaft timbers

This also is true of salvaged verses reclaimed. Both meet the sustainable label and therefore are “green”. The difference is also simple; reclaimed is material re-used from its original intended usage. A beam pulled from and old warehouse or dock is ‘reclaimed’ for use in a new setting. It could be cut up, re-shaped or used in any context, but the simple act of re-using fits the “reclaimed” definition.

Salvaged products come from items that were taken/secured because of a need for them to be removed. A simple illustration would be trees removed for a highway or new building. These are then processed into new products such as lumber, siding and/or furniture. This is different from harvesting trees on a commercial basis for resale.

This leads us to the next question; is one better than the other? You need to consider numerous things to understand and salvaged red cedarapply this. A beam reclaimed in Boston, Maine and shipped to Seattle, Washington is a reclaimed product that would need to be carefully considered to be a “green” product. While it is reclaimed, the cost in environmental terms would be hard to justify. Consequently, salvaging material in Washington and shipping it to Texas for reused again would need to be analyzed for it to be labeled Green.

In most case, green means reusing within 500 mile from its origination point. Whether it is salvaged or reclaimed, the real answer is can you make use of the product and will it be better/sustainable for the next generation. I found a short YouTube clip that illustrates the sustainability concept well. It is labeled “How sustainability can save your business“.