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Busy Bee Landfill Begins Grinding

Washington Business Expands into Wood Recycling with DuraTech Tub Grinder

By Jack Petree
Date Posted: 4/1/2006

SPOKANE, Washington — In a constantly transforming timber industry, few sectors have changed more in recent years than the processing of wood fiber by chipping and grinding. Once largely considered a by-product, chipping and grinding are an important aspect of resource recovery.

        Today, chipping, grinding, and mulching operations are often performed alongside timber harvesting and log processing operations. As truckloads of logs exit the woods, truckloads of grindings or chips often are not far behind. Indeed, in today’s tight markets, recovering more wood fiber from residual material sometimes is the difference between profit and loss.

        A substantial percentage of the new businesses being founded in the timber industry are centered on residuals, revealing the importance the technology has for the forest products industry of the 21st century.

        Busy Bee Landfill in Spokane, Wash. is a business that illustrates how the lines between industries are beginning to blur as the forest products industry expands. Busy Bee is an established solid waste management business but recently expanded its operations to serve the forest products industry. Using DuraTech Industries grinding technology, Busy Bee is not only surviving challenges it faces in waste management, it is also providing a necessary service for logging contractors who must process their residuals to optimize harvesting opportunities.

        Larry Beeler established Busy Bee in the early 1990s to provide demolition contractors, construction firms, and other companies a place to dispose of their solid waste material. inert waste produced in the natural course of their business. Providing a service that other companies needed and good business practices have led to continued success for Larry’s business.

        However, changes in state environmental regulations threatened Busy Bee Landfill. Larry explained. “The changes required firms previously accepting wood fiber into their construction and demolition debris landfills to begin to meet some of the same standards required of landfills accepting raw garbage,” he said. “For my landfill to continue to dispose of wood, it would have required an incredibly large investment in my facility with little prospect it would ever pay off.”

        Recycling wood fiber was the only real option available to Larry if he wanted to continue his landfill business. However, recycling presented its own set of challenges. Construction and demolition waste, for example, often is not recyclable in the ordinary sense of the word because of the potential contamination of wood recovered when buildings are demolished.

        Larry came to realize that grinding was the recycling solution. Backed into a corner by the new state regulations, he saw a way out of the dilemma: recycling wood waste by grinding it for fuel. Several cogeneration plants in the Spokane region burn wood fiber to create electricity.  Larry had wood fiber to burn, but he needed to process the material to make it acceptable to the cogeneration plants.

        “I had to achieve legitimacy as a recycler to stay in business,” he said. “A grinder can say with validity, ‘I’m a recycler,’ so I made the decision to investigate grinding as part of my approach to business.”

        The first step was to investigate the equipment options. “The most important thing to me in choosing a machine was flexibility,” said Larry. “This was something entirely new to me, but I knew enough to know I didn’t want to be stuck in the position of only being able to do one thing.  I’ve seen guys get into tub grinders around here and then get into trouble because they couldn’t serve enough of the market. I needed something that would be very efficient grinding construction and demolition debris, and, because I have some unique customers, asphalt shingles.  That would cover my existing business, but I also knew that if I wanted to continue to be successful, I’d have to expand beyond what I’m doing now. That meant I had to have a machine flexible enough to address the entire potential of the market.”

        A friend with experience in grinding operations strongly recommended Larry take a look at DuraTech Industries when the time came to purchase equipment. Larry considered it good advice. DuraTech is a North Dakota-based manufacturer of shredding, grinding, and residue reduction machinery with a long history in both the waste and the forest products fields.

        Larry was impressed by his first look at DuraTech equipment, but he decided to investigate other suppliers before making a buying decision. “I did a lot of research and found no one with the range of equipment and capabilities DuraTech offered,” he said. “They showed me how I could adapt the machine’s operation to serve my present customers, even those with asphalt shingles, as well as the new ‘green’ markets I wanted to look at expanding into.”

        Larry decided to invest in a DuraTech 3010 tub grinder with a 10 foot tub — large enough to accept nearly anything Larry wants to grind. The heavy duty hammermill ensures complete processing of difficult construction and demolition debris as well as logs, limbs and stumps from logging operations.

        The DuraTech 3010 tub grinder has enabled Larry’s company to service its base of customers and also an entirely new business opportunity in the timber industry.

        Logging contractors and land-clearing contractors who remove trees for development projects near Spokane face a quandary. “The regional air pollution authority banned burning of limbs, stumps, and other tree parts left after such harvests,” Larry said. “The material has to be disposed of before development takes place, and my grinder is ready and the perfect solution. I believe there is a significant opportunity in that end of the business to provide for an important environmental benefit to the public, help out the loggers, and expand my own business. Because my DuraTech is so versatile, I can serve that market even as I continue to take in construction and demolition debris.”

        Chipping, grinding, and mulching have become significant economic sectors in the forest products industry in recent decades. Busy Bee’s experience shows that owners of grinding equipment like the DuraTech 3010 have tremendous opportunity to enhance their businesses as the industry continues to change as it has in recent years.

        In the 21st century, the ‘daily grind’ has truly become an important element in the timber industry and sometimes the very key to success.


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