A new horizontal grinder at Yellowknife’s solid waste facility, used to turn scrap wood and brush into wood chips, could one day provide biofuels for the city.
The grinder produces chips for use in composting, wood stoves, and as a decorative material for city parks. It was acquired in a bid to create more space for other waste and tackle large piles of brush that had built up.
“There was a huge brush pile … that took just under a month to chip, and that was a giant fire risk,” said Peter Houweling, owner of Kavanaugh Bros, which purchased the grinder with the help of $75,000 in NWT government funding.
“Hay River was a prime example, that should be at the forefront of any landfill management strategy,” said Houweling, referring to last year’s landfill fire in Hay River. “Getting rid of that brush pile was a big relief off everybody’s shoulders.”
Houweling hopes to find more uses for the grinder in the coming years, such as branching out into the production of biofuels and offering other communities access to the machine.
He said wood chips from the grinder would also be a “viable option” for many pellet stoves in Yellowknife.
That would “create a perfect recycling circle locally,” he said, to “reduce our landfill and save money and trucking, so we’ll have environmental improvements as well.”
Chris Johnson, a representative of the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, said: “It hit a lot of the marks for us. It was import replacement, it was employment, it had a direct impact on economic development in the area.
“We were really happy when we saw this proposal come across our desks and that we could support it.”
Houweling hopes the grinder will help to change mentalities in Yellowknife.
“It is not a dump. It is a solid waste facility,” he said, “and we’re working on ways to divert material. So rather than it just going into a giant hole – the typical scenario of what a dump is – we don’t want to do that.
“It’s harmful for the environment … so the more that we can minimize landfills, the better we are protecting our environment and also reducing the cost to taxes.”