Sunday, November 10, 2013

Economic Development At The White Street Landfill: Part 2

As promised in Part 1 where I wrote of using the landfill gas to save Greensboro $Millions of Dollars a year on the cost of recycling glass and providing lots of good paying jobs to east Greensboro I now intend to tell you how a portion of that same unused 500 acres could also turn waste wood into jobs for Greensboro while reducing the City of Greensboro's landfill costs. Again, we'll begin with our assets.

Pallets and other waste wood. The City of Greensboro currently operates tub grinders to grind some waste wood into mulch and sells it to landscape suppliers who in turn bag the mulch and sell it to lawn and garden centers but there could be a higher use for much of this waste wood.

The City does not accept pallets into the waste stream as pallets have been banned from all North Carolina landfills. This has created a new market whereas some businesses are now willing to pay as much as $50 a ton to have old pallets hauled away. These old pallets are then ground in tub grinders and hauled away to landfills. I know this because this was one of the services I offered at my last job. As it's been three years the price might be higher. Roughly 20 pallets equals 1 ton so it adds up very quickly.

The tub grinding operation removes most but not all of the metals from the pallets through the use of magnets. But a second grinding operation to a smaller size and a float trip down a long water filled trough afterwards would send the remaining metals to the bottom of the trough for recycling later while preparing the now very shredded wood to be pressed into clean burning wood fuel pellets that currently retail at .75 cents per pound if bought by the bag. If need be, eddy current generators could be added to further remove aluminum and other metals from the ground wood before it enters the pellet presses.

As it turns out, the wood pellet industry in North Carolina is a multi-billion dollar a year industry with 100% of North Carolina's wood pellets being exported to Europe to replace coal in electric plants there in order to meet the more stringent air quality standards. So far the State of North Carolina has spent $200 Million Dollars on the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City just to ship wood pellets from North Carolina.

But to date no one has converted waste pallets to wood pellets. To date, Greensboro and every other city in North Carolina is paying to grind and bury pallets in landfills or ship them to landfills outside of North Carolina.

Other options would be to convert the ground wood into manufactured fire logs or manufactured wood boards using high pressure augers to press the wood fibers together.

If I were a member of the Greensboro City Council I'd be taking this wooden bull by the horns and talking about being an innovator instead of remaining in last place forever. Remember: the first city to do it gets a jump on the competition and becomes the hub of a regional waste solution charging tipping fees that are far higher than the City of Greensboro currently gets for the C&D (Construction and Demolition Debris) that currently continues to go into the White Street Landfill. It's as easy and natural as floating a piece of wood on water.

In Part 3 I'll tell you how the White Street Landfill could be used to attract aviation manufacturers.