Reduce Waste - Anticipate a way to prevent waste before it happens.Reuse - Lengthen the life of a product or material before it is recycled or disposed.



Reuse 60,000 Tons of Urban Wood


SEE UPDATE 1/15/14 in Criteria section below.

Greenway Recycling is an urban wood processor in NW Portland with the capabilities of producing in excess of 60,000 tons of ground wood per year. Currently, the only viable use for the finished product is as 3" minus, ground wood used as boiler fuel at paper mills. The material we have is 99% +/- wood fiber that is 100% post-consumer material. Only to a small degree is it sortable for any kind of QC and it will never be able to be sorted here for species, Hardwood, Softwood, etc., nor will it be particularly consistent from batch to batch. It is also in the range of 25-45% of the total waste stream weight volume of any municipality in the country. There is an ever diminishing demand for this product but a seemingly endless supply of the raw material. Less than 1% of the material we receive is reusable so any proposal that has that at its core is a non-starter. This is wood which has reached the end of it's useful cycle as dimensional wood.

We are looking for other uses for this ground product and are willing to pay $27,000 for a solution. The solution must fit into existing markets and existing technology. We are willing to invest money in equipment if the payback is relatively short and the end user relatively secure. There are absolute and finite limitations as to how much we can influence the inbound material since we receive material from a very broad assortment of customers including Contractors, Commercial Drop Box companies, Commercial Waste Haulers, Ship dunnage, land clearing from new developments, landscapers, and Industrial companies disposing of pallets and cribbing. Some wood is painted, small amounts of metal get past our magnets, there are small amounts of other contaminants including plastic, paper and dirt. We do not accept treated wood. The mix of our raw materials and the site constraints that we have preclude us from using this material as mulch or soil amendments.

Because we accept painted wood as well as wood with small amounts of metal that the magnets don't get 100% of, we are precluded by DEQ from using the material for mulch or compost.

Our ratio of WW (wood waste) to YW (yard waste) is about 3:1 in favor of wood, however, it never comes in consistently. On a daily or even weekly basis that could easily skew to 20:1 or down to 2:1. See the link for an aerial look at our wood yard, satellite and then zoom in.

We have the green buildings and the wood goes out in the open area. The green buildings hold the other materials we recycle, with no room to put the wood inside. Also note that the site is sloping, we primarily unload wood on the west deck and push it over the hill to the east to be fed to the grinder. With the volumes we run through the facility, we never have more than a few days that we can collect material before we have to process it.

Challenge Guidelines

GREENWAY UPDATE 1/15/14 (from Eric Wetland)------------- There have been some recurring themes in the solutions offered by folks who sent in suggestions. I am delighted that so many folks have thought about it enough to give input and want to thank them all. Here are key points on some of the suggestions that have been made so far....................... A couple of folks have suggest structural/insulated blocks. This is a very specialized product, I have only found one local producer and he already gets all the fiber he needs to produce his blocks. They just don't have the market penetration to use more material. Also, they have a similar problem to us in that they have a low-value material that does not like to travel very far before it is priced out of the market.......................... Several folks have talked about wood-gas or pyrolysis or some permutation of them. These all require a large capital expenditure, an expenditure made even more difficult by the numerous governmental hoops that must be jumped through and the inability to find financing for what is still deemed experimental. (Yes, I know that wood gas ran lots of engines in WWII but that was a different time with different standards to meet.)................................... Dog beds, reclaiming usable material, rustic flooring and biodegradable paint remover have problems of scale. There just is too much crummy stuff to warrant handling it in a way to sort out the small amounts of good stuff. The City of Portland sponsored a trial a few years ago that tried to positive sort out all usable material from the loads that came through a local MRF and it sorta kinda broke even, but they did not account for the amount of space required and much of the labor intensity and handling that went along with it as well as the lack of a consistent market for the material..................................... Compost, even if it were allowable (paint, nails, etc) is an even lower value item that the hog fuel. The shade boards has some of the problems of the wood gas folks... expensive machinery start up, etc. and it adds a new problem, marketing a product that folks don't know they need. A little beyond the scope of our business. I actually like the idea of a low value "chip board" and I suspect there is a market for it, maybe. The thing to remember here is that the value of the chips in a new chip board is already quite low and all the other steps in the manufacturing process and distribution/supply chain are the same, making it hard to save much................... My favorite solution suggestion to date is the wood scrap as feed for termite colonies. This is such a wonderfully bizarre solution that I have no way to measure it. Maybe there is a way to have a business that wrangles termites and worms since I suspect they would be sympathetic to each others needs.Perhaps this EcoSolution poster would like to flesh out his idea and see if there is any true viability to it? He mentions the methane production aspect of termites and in my world I would see this as a way to heat a concrete building that is outside the termites happy zone to live on their own, thus insuring that if they ever got loose, they would not be able to survive. There is my list for today. Best of luck to you EcoApprentice this coming year! ****************************************************** EcoSolutions must be achievable using new or existing services or technology that are readily available and accessible to Greenway Recycling. Solutions that require transport must factor transportation costs into the solution. There are no proposal word count minimums or maximums. It's the content of a workable solution that's most important. ***Please do not call Greenway - email us through EcoApprentice. Thanks!

What this challenge offers to the winner


Which state this challenge is located in


Current Solutions

Comments (4)

Susan Place: Could a company like in Philomath, Or who make rasta blocks out of ground up pallets and concrete use this?

Eric Wentland: Susan, Sort of yes... we have been in touch with them and the amount they use annually is fairly small. Also, they are currently sourcing from a vendor who is just down the road from them and unless that guy goes out of business they have no real incentive to change.

Dissertation Corp: There are some dissertation writing service where we should take something in order to better and unique Dissertation Help

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