Part of the Cariboo Regional District’s Solid Waste Info Series:
Ever wonder what happens to your wood waste? It all depends on where you drop it off. If it’s not segregated out of your household waste, it will be transported to your regional landfill and landfilled. If you dispose of it in your local transfer station bin, it, too, will be transported to your regional landfill. If you dispose of it at a landfill in the demolition and construction zone, it will be landfilled. If you drop it off in a wood waste marshalling area it will either be ground up for fuel at a co-gen plant, or it will be incinerated on site.
Does it matter if wood waste is landfilled or incinerated? Landfilling wood waste contributes more to climate change than incineration, takes up valuable space in our landfills, and if it is disposed of at a transfer station first, costs to transport it.
Landfilled wood waste creates methane gas as it decomposes in the oxygen-deprived landfill environment. Methane gas is greenhouse gas 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide when related to climate change.
Wood waste disposed of in landfills takes up valuable landfill space. The lifespan of a landfill is measured in volume by how many years of waste will fit into the existing landfill footprint. If we are able to reduce the amount of waste going into each of our landfills, it gives us more years of use.
Wood waste disposed of in transfer station bins must be hauled to the regional landfill, which is paid for by the tonne. Wood waste in transfer station bins also causes operational difficulties as it doesn’t compact well and prevents maximum use of the transfer bins.
One of the strategies under the Cariboo Regional District’s (CRD) new Solid Waste Management Plan is to divert clean wood waste from landfills. This will require site users to segregate clean wood from other waste. Clean wood is suitable for grinding and incineration and includes trees, branches, shrubs, leaves, dimensional lumber, pallets, and pieces of wood. Small metals such as fasteners (nails and screws) and hinges are allowable, as grinders have magnets to collects these. Contaminants such as dirt, rocks, concrete, brick, porcelain, steel, and other metals cause costly damage to grinding equipment and are strictly prohibited from clean wood waste.
Painted or heavily stained wood, treated wood, plywood, particle board or oriented strand board (OSB), and railway ties all need to be landfilled. These materials are not considered clean wood because the chemicals present in the finish, preservative, or glue are harmful if incinerated. Many of these materials are costly to purchase new, and unused portions or pieces that are still in good condition are accepted for re-use at any of the CRD’s share sheds.
Waste Wise education is delivered to students in the CRD, but the CRD would like to make waste education available to everyone, as we all have the ability to change our waste handling habits for the better. For more info on Waste Wise call (250) 398-7929 or find details on Waste Wise activities and events at ccconserv.org.
Please join us this year to become waste wise and make a difference. For direct access to our monthly topics “Like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/caribooregion, view us online at cariboord.bc.ca, or look for our articles in your local paper.