A machine capable of shredding trees, lumber and even concrete was demonstrated for Kenai Peninsula Borough waste management officials earlier this month at the Homer Baling Facility.
The device could significantly reduce the use of space at borough landfills, said its owner, Homer entrepreneur Gary Catlett, owner of Mobile Equipment Services. That fact wasn't lost on landfill operators in Homer.
"I'm going to recommend it," said Jim Norcross, supervisor at the Homer facility. Norcross said debris removed from construction sites, material from demolished old buildings and the remains of structure fires end up as jumbled piles in landfills. The machine demonstrated it could reduce the volume of such piles by 30 to 50 percent, he said.
"The space-saving ability is phenomenal. It could help extend the life of the landfill," Norcross said.
Catlett purchased the recycling machine used in Dallas, believing it could be useful in grinding up beetle-killed spruce being cleared around the borough. It was obvious, he said: The same principal -- reducing volume -- could be applied to piles of waste taking up acres at landfills.
Catlett noted that bulldozers used at the landfills don't compress old building materials anywhere near as well as the 47-foot-long grinding machine.
"We're losing valuable space," he said. "And there's too much air space. The material is not decomposing as fast as we want."
The machine consists of a "knuckleboom loader," hydraulic arm with a claw on its end, which lifts lumber, stumps and limbs and deposits that material in a hopper where a ram plate presses it into the maw of a spinning grinder that shreds the wood into mulch. A conveyor dumps the mulch on a pile for later disposal.
"It consumes a couple of hundred cubic yards of material an hour," Catlett said. "How much depends on the material."
Catlett said what's left is like a kind of organic gravel, easily buried or spread by dozers.
Norcross said the baling facility wants to try using the shredded material on facility dirt roads, which become muddy bogs during breakup and rainy periods. If the shredded wood binds well with mud, it may make for stronger road surfaces that are cheaper to maintain than hauling in gravel, he said.
CMI Corp., an Oklahoma firm that builds recycling and compacting machinery and develops solutions to environmental cleanup problems, builds the Maxigrind line of compactors. Rexworks, a Milwaukee company acquired by CMI several years ago, built Catlett's used model. CMI has marketed heavy machinery since 1964.
Lanie Hughes, environmental coordinator for the borough, said the borough has expressed some interest in the machine, but no deal to purchase or lease such a device is in the works at this time.
The machines are in use in Ketchikan and Sitka and are common Outside, Catlett said.
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