When Kevin Barkley with the city of Griffin, Georgia, received a call from Jimmy Hastings at the Caterpillar Griffin Engine Center asking for ideas on wood-waste recycling, Barkley knew he could help.
“We had already started a tree material recycling program at our landfill with Dell Walker of Enviro-Recyclers,” explains Kevin Barkley, Assistant Director of Solid Waste for the city of Griffin, Georgia. “So when Jimmy Hastings at the Caterpillar Griffin Engine Center called me to discuss recycling their wood-waste material, I was confident that we could provide a solution. We’d been working with Caterpillar on solid-waste disposal and with Dell Walker on tree material recycling, so it was really just a matter of coordinating and connecting the parties together.”
Building on an existing program
The three parties — Dell Walker with Enviro-Recyclers, Jimmy Hastings with Caterpillar and Kevin Barkley with the city of Griffin — met to discuss a plan to recycle pallets and other wood waste at the Caterpillar Griffin Engine Center.
“Engines and generators arrive at our facility on pallets, which are used as wooden shipping platforms,” details Jimmy Hastings, EHS Manager for the Caterpillar Griffin Engine Center in Griffin, Georgia.
Once engines are removed from their pallets, the pallets are reused until they are no longer viable, creating what many companies would consider waste wood destined for a landfill. Hastings viewed this wood as an opportunity and created a recycling program for it. The current process to recycle Griffin Engine Center’s pallets and additional wood waste works like this: Pallets and other recyclable wood are brought to an outside wood yard (located on-site at the Griffin Engine Center) to be made into wood chips. Dell Walker, President of Enviro-Recyclers, relies on a Morbark 4600 Wood Hog chipper, powered by a Cat® C27 ACERT™, to grind the pallets into chips.
About four times a year, Walker and his crew bring equipment to the Griffin Engine Center to process the pallets and wood material that has accumulated at the facility. The location is perfect for grinding as the site has a poured cement slab, which provides stability for the grinding equipment. The process generally takes about two weeks, and the end result is about 20 to 30 tractor-trailers of chipped wood.
“Our Morbark chipper can handle anything,” stresses Walker. “It will grind pallets and trees — almost anything you can throw in it (minus the metal). Our desired end result is a 3-inch or smaller wood product.”
The chipped wood is then trucked off-site to local companies wanting to purchase the material. One of those companies, Pratt Industries, utilizes the chipped wood in its gasification process of creating energy to produce cardboard material.
“One key is have good outlets for the material you want to recycle or dispose of,” notes Barkley. “We are fortunate that we have many good outlets for the material we’re recycling and the environmental programs we’re involved with. (See sidebar on “Keep Griffin Spalding Beautiful Inc.”)
“The amount of material we have is easy to handle and is appropriate for this size of community. We can also deliver the finished material to the end user, in most cases, within an hour away from the city of Griffin,” he adds.
All three companies involved in this process are dedicated to recycling and sustainability.
Caterpillar — Caterpillar as a company has embraced sustainability for many years. Since 2005, Caterpillar has published an annual sustainability report, with detailed performance information and data and highlights about specific projects that support its sustainable development efforts. Each year the report serves as the flagship document for stakeholders to understand Caterpillar’s commitment to sustainability. The company also has a website dedicated to its sustainability efforts.