recycling: Growing A Wood Waste Recycling Program

How do you start a wood waste recycling program?

Communities throughout the country are being attracted to wood waste recycling as a part of their landfill diversion and recycling promotion programs. And, private companies are interested in wood waste as a lower cost substitute for virgin feedstocks in traditional wood products and as a raw material for direct end-use applications.

But, without an effective wood waste recycling strategy, solid waste managers are vulnerable to a host of product quality problems.

A new guide to illuminate this subject's complexities was developed for the Clean Washington Center (CWC), Seattle, by International Resources Unlimited Inc. (IRU), Eugene, Ore., in conjunction with Gershman, Brickner and Bratton (GBB), Falls Church, Va., and Green Solutions, South Prairie, Wash.

By creating a forum for best practice knowledge and information exchange, the CWC hopes to improve wood recycling profitability and, consequently, expand the nationwide infrastructure for wood waste recovery. The Wood Waste Best Practices Manual categorizes 60 specific best practices under four general topics which include:

Sourcing. Wood waste is generated in many forms, each having different contamination levels. In order to meet end-user specifications, recyclers need to match their raw material supply quality with their customers' product quality requirements. As end markets expand to include certain higher value products, prioritizing generators becomes even more important.

For example, manufacturing feedstock specifications are satisfied most easily by processing high quality wastes such as secondary manufacturing residuals and clean construction trim. Other considerations include wood volume availability, supply reliability and accessibility in terms of transportation and competition.

Wood recovery businesses are specializing services for the general disposal needs of specific generator types. For instance, some offer jobsite recycling services tailored for the construction industry that save contractors disposal costs and provide wood waste processors with a valuable raw material. Others are specializing in wood recovery from pallets and crates, demolition, and landclearing.

Processing. Wood waste processors have several options for size reduction equipment, including hogs, grinders, shredders, chippers and hybrid varieties. Since each type has limitations, you must match incoming wood waste with size reduction equipment to create the highest quality products.

In many cases, this means processors will segregate clean waste for chipping from contaminated waste that will be hogged. Some hybrid equipment is capable of producing higher-quality products from lower-quality wood.

Wood waste is well known for contamination problems (dirt, rocks, metal, plastic, paper, glass, etc.). As a result, processors must integrate a number of specialized contaminant removal systems to improve quality. These include: manual sorting, screening equipment, air density separators, magnetic removal equipment and chip washing.

Manufacturing. Some in the industry are attempting to penetrate manufacturing markets that traditionally have relied on virgin wood feed- stocks. Since wood waste-derived feedstocks are inherently more complex than virgin feedstocks (multiple specie content, variable and low moisture content, contamination levels, irregular chip geometry and weathered colors), manufacturers often must modify their processing procedures to accommodate wood waste without creating excessive manufacturing or product performance problems.

Typical changes to standard operations include establishing specialized quality control systems to monitor compliance with feedstock specifications, segregated storage systems to separate virgin from recycled fiber, enhanced contaminant removal systems and equipment to control blending wood waste with conventional feedstocks.

End-Use. As end markets for wood waste continue to expand, recyclers need to focus attention on the differences in quality expectations among end users.

Satisfying customer expectations is a key factor in marketing success. Written specifications are an excellent way to communicate product quality requirements with each end user.

Typical product specifications will address acceptable:

* wood species;

* contaminant levels;

* a chip size distribution;

* color;

* geometry; and

* moisture content.

Monitoring specifications through a consistent quality control program allows the processor and end user to anticipate and avoid problems.

For more information, contact: Mary Lynch, Clean Washington Center, 2001 6th Ave., Ste. 2700, Seattle, Wash. 98121. (206) 587-4217.

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