'I've always been a scrounger.”
Belleau wants Iqaluit to grind and burn scrap wood
Jacques Belleau says he has a win-win-win proposition for the city of Iqaluit.
Belleau is buying a portable wood grinder, and he told city councillors that Iqaluit could use it to:
- clean up scrap wood around the city;
- reduce costs for heating city facilities; and
- take the pressure off a landfill site that's already nearly bursting at the seams.
All at the same time.
Belleau's new grinder will handle just about any kind of scrap wood, including pallets – and including cardboard.
Belleau came to the last city engineering and public works committee meeting to talk about his proposal, but Councillor Jimmy Kilabuk felt it was inappropriate to discuss it without a written proposal for reference, something Belleau did not have – in any language.
So he talked about his idea informally with some of the councillors and the media after the meeting adjourned.
Belleau's grinder, the D5600 Shred-All, produced by Concept Products of Pennsylvania, reduces all the wood and cardboard fed into it on a 56-inch wide conveyor belt into a fine shredded material that can be burned in automatic, hopper-feed wood furnaces.
It will even handle used construction lumber, packing crates and pallets – nails and all. It separates the ground-up metal from the shredded wood using a powerful magnet.
The resulting shredded material could be burned to replace oil as a heat source for city or other institutional buildings, or to provide heat for the water-delivery system, Belleau said.
He said the city of Yellowknife is already using wood pellets to heat two arenas and a swimming pool, and is saving about $150,000 a year in heating costs over oil, even though it buys the pellets from Alberta.
Iqaluit could probably do even better, he suggested, considering the price of heating oil here, and especially if it used a grinder like the Shred-All to process its own wood and cardboard from local scrap.
The Shred-All costs about $150,000.
"We pick up bales of cardboard from Northmart," Councillor Jim Little said.
And Belleau said city engineer Bruce Rines had told him that cardboard accounts for nearly a third of the material that goes into the city landfill.
The feed on the pellet-burning furnaces would have to be adapted, Belleau admitted, to handle the shredded wood, but he felt that could be easily done.
The important part, he said, would be to have a hopper feed system for the furnaces so the fuel feeding could be automated.
"These boilers burn hot and clean."
He noted that construction companies in Iqaluit now pay $500 to take a load of scrap wood to the dump. "They hate it," Belleau said.
He suggested the city could provide a separate container to collect the scrap wood at construction sites and both reduce its charges to the construction companies and make money back by grinding the wood to use as fuel.
Belleau said he is buying the grinder to use in southern Quebec, where the shredded material actually has more value as compost than as fuel.
Here it would be most valuable as fuel.
If the city is interested enough to pay the freight costs and to pay wages for a couple of workers to run the machine, Belleau said he would be willing to lend it to Iqaluit for a couple of weeks this summer to try out so councillors can decide whether it's something they want to pursue.
He estimated shipping costs would be about $3,000 to bring the grinder up north, and $2,000 to send it back down south.
"You try it and decide," he said. At the end of two weeks, "you can buy it, or send it back."
Belleau, who came to Iqaluit 32 years ago and is the former owner of Frobuild, said that five years ago he calculated that about a million kilos of burnable scrap goes into the Iqaluit dump in a year.
Ten pounds of ground-up scrap, he said, can replace one litre of fuel. So the city is filling up valuable landfill space with the equivalent of 200,000 litres of heating fuel a year.
"I've always been a scrounger," he said. "It bugs me to see all that wood going to waste. The Trigram building uses $70,000 worth of fuel per year."
Little and Glenn Williams asked Belleau to bring a written proposal back to city council – and to submit it early enough so it can be translated into Inuktitut.