For many years now the Environmental Protection Act, along with the Clean Air Act, has considered the commercial burning of green waste inappropriate. This has therefore severely reduced the ability of using the traditional bonfire to dispose of wood waste created from the maintenance of trees and hedges. Martin Lucas, Sales Director at GreenMech, explores the multiple benefits of using a wood chipper for the effective disposal of wood, brash and bushy material.
A chipper is defined as a mechanical means that uses sharp blades to convert bulky wood waste into a more compact form. A wood chipper can typically provide a 6:1 breakdown ratio, meaning material that would usually take 6 loads to dispose of can be done in 1. A wide array of businesses from arboretums and caravan sites, to prisons and zoos are using chippers these days and this is great news. It is considered that this is happening for 4 main reasons; the increasingly stringent rules and legislation regarding commercial burning, the cost of using landfill sites, the logistical implications and the ethical viewpoint.
In addition to the Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Air Act other regulations also have an impact on the disposal of waste, such as the Waste Management Licencing Regulations and the Highways Act, who will monitor smoke pollution near and on public highways. Any commercial businesses (with the exception of farms who are allowed some limited, controlled burning) can be prosecuted if found to be in breach of any of the listed legislation. A typical fine, imposed by The Environmental Agency, Local Council or Police is likely to be in the region of £2,500 – an amount that would go a long way towards the cost of hiring or even buying the correct equipment. In addition to discouraging the dumping of unnecessary material into landfill, councils will typically charge the tipper between £26 and £45 per tonne of waste. This can reach over £100 a tonne depending on the material you are disposing of.
For example, a typical chip box holds 5 cubic metres of chip making 1.5 tonnes per load. If we assume an average of 1.5 loads a day, over a working 5 day week, we come to 11.25 tonnes. Going further, over 30 working weeks in a year we would get to a staggering 337.25 tonnes and, at £26.00 per tonne, the landfill charge would come to £8,775 in the year – not including fuel and downtime. In fact £26.00 is a low figure – it can climb to over £100.00 per tonne, depending on the material you are disposing of. With the 6:1 ratio in mind, not having a chipper would mean 6 times as many loads, equalling a massive amount of money spent on disposing waste, fuel and time.
As well as the logistical and financial implications, landfill should be discouraged to promote alternative uses for the material, in particular using wood waste for Biomass purposes, pathways or other decorative edgings. Woodchip is also used effectively as mulch around trees where it acts as a weed suppressant and helps to retain moisture. It is no surprise that another major reason landfill is being discouraged in the impact tipping has on the environment. Every ton of material that can be used for alternative purposes helps the worlds challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The growing concerns about companies’ carbon footprint means that clients are increasingly expecting arborists and contractors to manage their wood waste properly.