ISE, Mie Prefecture--A local construction company has launched a new effort through social media to give away its leftover lumber from building houses for free.

It is part of a fledgling nationwide recycling trend that benefits homebuilders, hobbyists and the environment all at the same time by eliminating costs and reducing construction material waste.

Dubbed "Zanzai Bank" (bank for remainder materials), the project is designed to promote the reuse of scrap wood while catering to increased demand from do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

Other similar efforts are becoming widespread among small and midsize firms across the country, the company said.

Ise-based Nakayoshi Corp. started the Zanzai Bank to offer scrap lumber from locally grown "hinoki" cypress and cedar trees ranging in length from 50 to 150 centimeters.

Nakayoshi posts photos of the leftover wood on its Instagram account (@zanzaibank_ise) and includes a time frame for people to come pick it up.

It speaks with anyone willing to pick up the wood and asks them to visit the garden at Middle Earth Village, a furniture and daily goods shop that opened near its main office in June, to pick it up.

According to President Junji Nakamura, 44, the company mostly builds houses.

The pillars and other building materials it uses are processed at a factory before they are carried into construction sites. But the company brings in extra materials for the ceiling and other structures to be cut on site, which creates wood waste.

About six cubic meters of scrap wood is produced from one house, he said.

The company is not allowed to burn the scrap wood, a common former practice in the industry, and Nakayoshi has had to pay a waste removal company to haul away most of the excess wood in the past.

When the president was researching ways to reuse the wood, he was encouraged by an acquaintance at the Kanazawa-based construction firm Iemoto, which launched its own Zanzai Bank in June last year, to follow suit.

Nakayoshi said they have received many requests so far.

A 70-year-old local woman who picked up seven pieces on June 30 said she intends to ask her eldest son to use the free lumber to build a rack for succulent plants.

"It's a real help for me because it's not that cheap if I buy them at a home improvement center," she said.

Nakamura said the effort has generated a huge response as the COVID-19 pandemic triggered increased demand from people who are stuck at home and have turned to DIY projects in their spare time.

Construction companies in Nara, Oita and Miyazaki prefectures have also launched their own Zanzai Bank projects.

"What a local building contractor can do may be small, but we can make a difference when we work together," he said. "It also contributes to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

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