Red Deer County hopes to save money and keep 7,000 tonnes of wood out of landfills by recycling it over the next four years.
A pilot project approved by county council this week aims to divert “clean wood” — mostly pallets, building lumber and trees, branches and stumps.
The wood will be chipped and added to household compost. Adding wood chips improves the composting process and reduces odour.
If the county hits its target of diverting 7,000 tonnes of wood over the next four years about $70,000 in landfill-related costs will be saved.
“I look at this as being environmentally friendly,” said Coun. Philip Massier. “I look at this as a big step.”
Mayor Jim Wood said the initiative will make use of a product that was just dumped previously.
“All of this wood will not fill in a hole somewhere. It’s going to go to good use.”
After the 2017 wind storms, that shredded and toppled thousands of trees in central Alberta, the county began tracking how much wood it was taking in at its three waste transfer stations.
In 2018, 235 tonnes of wood was received, about one per cent of the 23,781 tonnes of waste collected. The next year, 337 tonnes of clean wood was collected — 1.5 per cent of the 22,466 tonnes of waste received. By 2020, five per cent — 775 tonnes — of clean wood made up the 15,518 tonnes of garbage going to landfills.
Diverting the wood from the landfill will have many benefits, said Andrew Treu, county environmental services manager. The initiative will cut methane emissions and save an estimated 26,000 kilometres of hauling each year.
Red Deer County waste is hauled 135 km to a regional landfill in Camrose County.
To provide an incentive for customers to deliver clean wood, the county is charging a $55-per-tonne tippage fee, which is less than the $74 per tonne fee for residential waste and the $97 per tonne for commercial waste.
City of Red Deer also collects clean wood for recycling, as well as other products such as unpainted drywall, yard waste, scrap metal, and appliances among other items. White wood pallets, dimensional lumber and evergreen branches can be dropped off for $65.50 per tonne.