I am lucky to have found a few people to help with this, to our mutual benefit.
We have two different people take hardwood scraps. One takes bundles of rippings that we band up and put outside. He chainsaws them and sells them for kindling. The other provides 50# seed bags for short cutoffs and takes them every week. He and his extended family use them to supplement heat.
A gentleman farmer down the road parks his trailer under our outdoor dust hopper (I provided a hitch lock for him so that it doesn't get stolen) and hauls it weekly or as needed.
We collect sander dust in a collector that uses plastic bags. They seem to disappear if we leave them outside. Worst case a craigslist ad brings people in.
Unfortunately, the plywood scraps are harder. The local HS wood shop will sometimes take a pallet, but most are too small for them and get thrown away.
We hire 2 yard rolling bins from our trash hauler - scraps go directly into them, they get rolled out to the dock for pickup twice a week. No transfer from another container that way. I think we keep four in the shop at all times.
Another good post Mel.
The folks at Woodweb should put you on payroll.
We're in the middle of Seattle.
Our sawdust gets picked up by people who have horses. Other than a parrot that poops every 15 minutes for 100 years, nothing needs sawdust more than horses.
The majority of our shavings come from the planer or jointer so are relatively glue free. We do have to be careful with walnut as this is not good for horse hooves.
Our plywood scraps are pretty small and get stored in large garbage cans. We have an area set aside in our loading bay for about 20 of these cans and a trash removal service picks them up on an on-call basis.
We use most of the buffalo so solid lumber scraps are fairly minimal. This usually becomes firewood. Sometimes we get unusual scraps that I would have killed for as a kid for making forts for my army men. These tend to end up at daycare centers for craft projects.
To understand our waste, you must understand our business. We do mostly moulding and wide plank flooring. Some stair treads and the occasional whatever. No sheet goods (except what we resell in whole sheets).
Our "dust collectorable" material goes into a trailer owned by New England Wood Pellet. When it's near full we give them a call and they replace it with an empty one. They pay us $24/ton (there is a farmer, who was an "old lady" 33 years ago when I started, who we allow to fill bags from the trailer when she needs some).
This January we purchased a Weima shredder to eliminate the rest of our waste (it's dust collectorable). We have previously been handling it a couple different ways:
1. Our edgings we would stack into a cart that would give us bundles approximately 24" in dia. We would sell these to locals for kindling, arch wood, etc. We actually had one guy that has a wood fired pottery kiln buy a log truck and trailer load every summer (about 60 bundles). We used to sell these for $15 each, with discounts for multiples, or sales in August or so...
2. We would pick out the "best" (Goldilocks "just right" sized) pieces, that we would cut into 16" pieces and bag in 0.5 and 1.0 cubic foot bags and sell direct as well as through a few local places as kindling.
3. Cut-offs would get stored in "crates". We would get these (delivered for free) from a relatively local company that got their parts in them. They're about the size of a pallet, and 24-30" high. We would sell these as firewood to locals as well - $35 per crate, except the ones that we sorted by species and end-trimmed any end coating off - we sold these to a local smoke-BBQ place for $100/crate.
Since we got the shredder, no more edgings (it sits next to the rip saw, so most stuff goes directly in). The cutoffs have only been able to be partially diverted, since the shredder we got is really designed for edgings, or at least longer pieces. We've had to limit the minimum length to 24".
We're also fortunate to have a "zero sort" waste company. All cardboard, paper, plastics #1-7, and "tin" cans go into the recycling dumpster and it costs us like $40/mo to get it emptied.
The only wood that goes into the actual trash dumpster is stuff that has a finish on it. This is less than .1% of the wood "waste" we generate - it's cut-offs from the picture frame moulding that is pre-finished and cut-to-size.
Grinder /shredder at the saw for fall off so it goes up the collector with the waste (not lumber saw dust). These saves by allowing more in the dumpster and no handing to the dumpster.
Separate collector for molder / gang rip / shapers in mill area.
Hardwood scraps, edgings go the the local boy scout camp for kindling. One employee heats on wood and uses some. The lumber processing area has a separate collector that cyclones it into dump a trailer. A horse barn picks it up on call. Recyclables go to a collection center as needed. Melamine scrap goes onto scrap bins (one of these is kind of slick, it doesn't require the forklift driver to dismount. Just tilt the mast forward and it dumps.) that are dumped by the forklift into the outside dumpster. Melamine the size for shelves usually gets taken by people /companies I know. Some gets taken by a high school woods class. Melamine dust goes into the dumpster.
Surprisingly we have a fair amount of metal waste. All of this is saved and picked up by a man we call "The Metal Guy". He rides in every few days on a bicycle, and we can spot him diving the dumpsters outside our business, give him a shout and he takes everything. Pretty often he arranges for someone with a pickup to come by and get what he can't carry.
I am also constantly increasing my Honey Bee colonies, so I use our shorts to build boxes, bottom boards, all sorts of items. The smaller and shorter pieces end up as kindling, kiln dried so it is mostly used to start the fires at home, 60% of my heat is from my fireplace. I also use the best lumber salvaged from pallets for the same purpose.
The desirable chips and sawdust go into garden compost, gets used for mulching or ends up in the driveway mud holes around the property where we live.
Old blinds and shutters get picked thru by the employees at neighboring businesses and less fortunate people who live close to our shop. What is left we carry to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
Anything else of possible value we sit against the dumpster in site of the busily traveled street. It is amazing how fast that stuff leaves and finds a home.
Question about sawdust for farmers... I live in a very hippy dippy region of the world. And our sawdaust is full of evil glues from all the nasty sheet goods we process.
Can I recycle the sawdust for farming purposes without getting a group picketing in front of the business? Not sure how these adhesives impact the environment at all. And of course I would care if it is not a good idea.
I keep a Pit Bull at the shop for having discussions with the picketers, he enjoys a good conversation. Usually one sided though.
Saw dust and chips from melamine or primed wood, I toss in the dumpster.
Dust and chips from hardwoods, I will use in my garden. When it comes from Cypress or Pine, I keep it away from my garden and edible plants. I use that to fill holes, or put it under the pine straw in our flower beds. It keeps the weeds down and makes the straw go further.
Certain resins in some woods will lock up the nutrients in your soil. Probably a topic too lengthy for here. Also be careful about giving chips to horse owners due to potential problems. If you search the topic, it was discussed here a few months back.
Great thread. In 10 responses there are a dozen or more innovative solutions, some of which even generate revenue. All of them prevent needless waste.
Could any bureaucrat at any level dictating what shall happen to all dust, chips, cutoffs, strips and odd scraps and pieces -- from many types of wood and wood products -- with regulations covering hundreds (or thousands) of categories of wood "trash" that must be recycled possibly come up with solutions that would be even half as beneficial as those of the people on the ground, in the business and left to their own devices? Not in a million years.
And enterprising people like "The Metal Guy" are everywhere. Here in Miami, anything of value left in the alley is usually gone within 24 hours, and not to the city trash haulers. The cruising pick-up trucks in the alley never stop looking for their next find. Some of it goes to scrappers, some of it gets fixed and used, but virtually none of it winds up in a land-fill.
Okay now I'm really nerding out. I've been looking into gasification.... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasification).
Waste used to create fuel. Can be used to create energy in combination with a combustion engine. And MDF waste qualifies I hear! (can you tell I'm pretty excited?)
Not quite there yet in North America--though I hear the German are (of course). But one of our local universities is heating the campus with such a system. I've sent them an email... lets see what they have to say.
We only spend $5-6k a year for oil for heat. We're heating a total area of approximately 13,000 SF. We have return air on our main dust collector, which makes a huge difference. While I like the IDEA of using wood for heat, it doesn't add up for me yet.
You are looking at one of two scenarios :
1. Highly automated system, with a silo. Big bucks - about $75k for the couple systems I've gotten quotes for. I imagine yearly maintenance is not insignificant either.
2. Manual system. One word - LABOR. Our employees "cost" us (direct and indirect labor costs, as well as contribution to gross margin when they're productive) about $160/hr. Since we'd still need the oil over the weekend, we'd probably save about $4-5000/yr. That only allows spending about 25-30 hours per heating season to stoke the thing, clean out the ash, clean the chimney, etc. That's about 1.25-1.5 hrs a week, or 15-20 minutes a day. And that's assuming someone gave us the equipment...
With both scenarios, you will also probably have to be working with the EPA...
Like I said, not for me. Now, when oil gets to $10/gallon I'll be reconsidering.
Rick--I'm one of those people that have just enough information to be dangerous but not enough to be effective...
Mind elaborating for the half informed? Is biomass gas the same as syngas? Are you actually synthesysing your own waste to produce your own energy/thermal heat right on location? Can you use evil shit like MDF in there?
And finally, how physically large is the actual system?
Hats off for implementing this, as well as the wind turbines :)
Our electric bill is waay larger than our heat bill. I would love to put in a co-gen plant, but we only need about 125KW and I've been told by several people that it's really not cost effective until you get to at least 200. Plus I'd have to just "waste" all the heat in the summer as we have no need for process heat.
In regards to any burning answer, as technology and new ideas progress, maybe at some point it will become more cost effective.
Our dust collector is hooked up to a bin outside where all the dust gets dumped into the bin and then gets picked up by Ontario Sawdust where it gets made into fuel pellets. unusable offcuts get thrown in a separate garbage bin. If we have accumulate left over trim (base,crown,casings) we donate them to Habitat for Humanity.
Our "sawdust" gets bagged and sold for $3 per bag. I have two "clients"... people w/ animals and guys that scrap cars. They use the sawdust to collect oil, fluids, etc. I never have bags sitting around. One phone call and it's gone. As far as wood scraps... I have two outdoor wood boilers, one for the shop, one for the house. All the solid wood goes in the house boiler, all the plywood goes in the shop boiler.
It's worth checking our your local garbage disposal policies. Here in Vancouver, BC you can dispose of wood, including plywood, etc, at the transfer station for a rate that is just a little over half of the regular garbage rate.
While you trumpet the superiority of market forces, don't forget that it is bureaucratic regulations that put pressure on firms to find those innovative solutions. Or we could go Full-on Free Market and just dump our waste on our neighbors' property.
Bottom line, bureaucratic regulations are necessary for economies to function.
Found out who collects waste for the local university who biomass heats the campus. Turns out the collectors are not only in our area (ish), but also have way better collection services than any other garbage pick-up options for our city.
They take everything wood waste--dust, off cuts, ply, mdf, hardwood, you name it. Doesn't even need to be sorted. As for now it looks pretty good.
Passed on the info to the appropriate person, and one of the collector reps has come in to make a quote.
The quote is in the works--let you folks know how it goes.
Very thrilled :)
PS Lesley--you are in Van? Maybe you want to check these guys out too? Wondering if the dump passes this waste on for biomass fuel....
Thanks everyone for sharing various woodworking waste removal ideas. It is important to get rid of them responsibly and not mix them with regular wastes coming from the kitchen. If we seek the proper channels, there are many people out there who can actually gain from our woodworking waste products so it is definitely a win-win situation for all.
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