Friday, January 1, 2016

Hey Grinderguy, what do I do with all my Mulch Fines?

Screening of mulch prior to coloring or bagging has been a recent development of the past few years. As fuel hit $4 per gallon, maximizing weight on a truck became a major cost savings measure. By screening the fines out of the mulch before coloring and/or bagging, the individual bag weights decreased, which meant pallet weights decreased and more pallets were able to be put on a truckload and still be within legal State limits. Same was said for more bulk yards per truckload. So screening mulch became a priority.
                But that created another issue, all the mulch fines. Depending on the materials, the grind process or the screen, as much as 30% of the material came out in the fines. This created a major dilemma for some. Others did not have as much of an issue and had an easy outlet. So here are a few ideas:
·         Compost- If you have the space, compost them and sell compost or use them in your soil mixes
·         Pellet Plants- Seems to be one on every corner now. If you have straight wood fines, this is your place
·         Soil- If you screen a lot of landclearing material, you will probably have a pretty good blend of dirt, wood, leaves, brush, grasses that after it sits a while, is a pretty good potting soil
·         Fuel- Some places will take as is, others need to be mixed with a courser fuel wood
·         Another Fuel Supplier- Maybe another Fuel supplier could mix them with their material. Fines are weight, weight is tonnage. You get paid by tonnage
·         Animal Bedding- Clean wood, this is always an outlet. If not Direct, to an Animal Bedding Supplier
·         Another Mulch Product- There are Mulch Suppliers selling ¾” minus mulch as a premium product and making double what they do off their normal mulch inventory
Basically, you will develop another product, which can increase revenues also. The alternative is it may become burdensome.
If you are creating too many fines, try not creating them at all. If you are grinding too fine which is creating the fines, grind at a larger product size and scalp the oversize while screening out the fines. If these fines are coming mostly from one vendor, change the vendor or ask them to change their operation. Either way, there is always a solution, just minimize any negatives best you can.

Questions? Dave Whitelaw