Helped by its newest addition, a Morbark 3800XL grinder, this Ontario firm keeps mountains of green waste from the landfill.
A snapshot of the overall recycling situation for the province of Ontario is not exactly a pretty one. According to a 2010 report from Ontario’s Auditor General, the province ranks sixth in the country in waste diversion (behind Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, British Columbia and Quebec) and a number of landfills province-wide are either at or nearing capacity. Despite that bleak outlook, however, some companies are doing their part—and then some—to recover material from the waste stream, reduce the load on area landfills and make value-added products in the process. Windsor Disposal Services, Ltd. (WDS), is one such example. Armed with a new Morbark 3800XL Wood Hog, the company, whose motto is “Our Business is Picking Up,” processes roughly 15,000 tonnes of green waste annually, composts it, and makes the resultant high-quality compost product available to the general public. That effort has been extremely successful, both in getting a majority of area green waste diverted from the landfill, and in proving that, with the proper approach and reliable technology, recycling can and does work in Ontario.
WDS Gets Green
Started a quarter century ago by Rocco Moceri as a small family-run business focused on industrial and commercial waste disposal, the company has grown into one of southwestern Ontario’s preeminent recycling specialists, tackling everything from solid waste to C&D recycling and from wood waste processing to managing a recycling centre on behalf of the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority. While all that is impressive, the company’s ongoing efforts at green waste recycling are also noteworthy. According to Mike Coulson, WDS’s general manager, the move to recover green waste dates back about a decade.
“The city of Windsor started a yard waste program of its own in about 2000,” he says. “At that time, they tendered out the processing of the waste, and we won the bid. Needing a grinder, we contacted Morbark and purchased a Model 4600 Wood Hog, which helped us get the green waste operation up and running.”
Today, says Coulson, in addition to the city’s program, WDS collects green waste from within about a 100-mile radius throughout southwest Ontario, and also processes green waste at drop off sites run by both the city and the county. In addition, the company runs its own MRF, which allows them to separate out wood waste and pallets. Those, too, are run through the grinder, but their end use—better than 5,000 tonnes of it per year—is targeted for biofuel rather than compost.
MICS, the Difference
While WDS was very pleased with the performance they were getting out of the 4600, after about a decade of grinding, the machine had reached what Coulson calls “the end of its life cycle,” and he came to the realization that a replacement was needed. The timing couldn’t have been better; Morbark had just released the first unit in its new 3800XL line and was conducting demos for customers in the upper Midwest.
“Morbark brought the 3800XL in here for a demo, and we immediately saw a number of features on it that we knew could benefit our operation. The biggest of those was the change in the infeed controlling system. We deal with so much different material—yard waste, wood waste, pallets, wet material, etc.—that any grinder would have a tendency to bog down, stop and reverse under such a heavy load. We quickly found out that this one deals with those things much differently.”
The change to which Coulson alludes is made possible by the unit’s Morbark Integrated Control System (MICS), which automatically adjusts feed rates, monitors pressures and changes the feed wheel position to maximize production and engine efficiency. Morbark’s service manager, Jeff Greening, says the MICS has really gained a dedicated following since its introduction.
“The most dramatic difference customers notice is an uptick in production because the grinder is no longer stopping, backing material out, and starting again,” he says. “Now, when the unit senses a drop in RPM, it simply slows down until those RPM come back up again. It is much better from both a production and fuel economy standpoint.”
Found a Home
To say the demo for the 3800XL at WDS went well would be a gross understatement. After three days of seeing what it could do, Coulson essentially told the Morbark rep who had brought the unit—the first one off the line, remember—that he would be leaving empty-handed.
“There was no way we were letting that grinder off this site,” he says. “We both agreed that we’d deal with things like pricing and terms later; the important thing was we were getting the grinder we needed. In fact, as a rule we generally get pricing from three different manufacturers. We were so convinced about the machine that we didn’t even bother looking elsewhere.”
Coulson’s confidence was well-placed. Since putting the 3800XL in service, he estimates that they are seeing fuel savings in the 20% range, a nice cushion to have in light of ever-fluctuating oil prices. Production, he adds, has also seen a nice bump upward.
“It used to take over an hour for us to load a truck, now our operator can do it in 30-40 minutes. That’s a really decent improvement. In fact, Gord Edwards, our operator, often says he has trouble keeping it fed; it’s that productive.”
To ensure that WDS would get the most out of its new purchase, Morbark invited Coulson and his team to the manufacturer’s factory in Winn, Michigan, for a series of hands-on instructional sessions.
“We ran the guys through a number of things designed to help them, both now and down the road,” says Greening. “We focused heavily on the MICS and what it could do for them, but also covered a range of things like feeding techniques, maintenance tips and so on. We felt it would prove helpful to them, and they’ve already told us that’s been the case.”
With the new grinder in place, WDS is poised to tackle almost anything they encounter. At the present, between what they themselves collect, what the city collects at its yard waste sites, and what the county takes in at each of its own sites, that volume is in excess of 15,000 tonnes. Once run through the grinder, the material is windrowed and periodically turned over the course of one year. At that point it is high-quality compost ready for use.
“We make that all available to the public in a number of different ways,” says Coulson. “We pre-bag some, we allow customers to bag their own, we offer it in bulk and, in some cases, we even deliver. The bottom line is: the general public has been very receptive to the whole concept—we never fail to get rid of everything we have by season’s end. That says a lot about both our operation and the willingness of area residents to embrace recycling.”