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Wood recycling is new service

A wood recycling service offered by a West Fargo business is unique to the trade area.

Glen Winter and Bob Bergman started Pro Pallet, a business that builds wood pallets in July 2001, and through this venture accumulated a large amount of waste wood that they disposed of in the Fargo landfill for $20 a ton.

A ton of waste wood seems like it would take a long time to accumulate and disposing it for $20 doesnt seem like much of a burden. However, many businesses generate a tremendous amount of waste wood in their daily operations from things like used pallets, packaging material and plating.

Winter pointed out that Pro Pallets itself generates between six and seven tons of waste wood a day, while a business like Fargo Truss tends to generate about that much each week during the busy months, according to a supervisor there. All things considered the costs of disposing waste wood added up for Pro Pallets, and the owners wanted to spend their money elsewhere.

They decided it made more sense, and cents, to do something practical with the wood rather than pay for it to be ground into chips at the Landfill. Landfill chips are sold throughout the year, except during a month in the spring and in the fall when they give them away, according to the landfills equipment operator Sonny Rheault.

Looking at the F-M market, Winter and Bergman determined there was a high demand for a wood recycler because, as Winter said: Theres a ton of stuff thats being disposed of and not being put to practical use.

Minnkota Recycling in Fargo does not recycle waste wood.

Winter and Bergman looked at a number of different wood grinding operations around the country in preparation to opening up their own. Then they invested about a half-million dollars in new wood grinding equipment, dumpsters and a delivery truck, learned how to use it and started grinding waste wood, excluding tree scraps, into chips that can be used for animal bedding or landscaping mulch.

Dakota Bedding delivered its first load of animal bedding on Dec. 29, 2005. Not only is the waste wood turned into something useful, but businesses are able to save money by not having to pay to get rid of it. Dakota Bedding charges a dumpster fee (for stationing a dumpster at a business) but not a dump fee (for disposing of the wood). Several businesses have even taken the initiative to haul their scrap wood to Dakota Beddings location.

Barry Orvik, production manager at Fargo Truss, is on the supplier side of Dakota Beddings wood recycling service. He said it has been a boon to his company, which is one of nine in the area where theres a Dakota Bedding roll-off dumpster for depositing scrap wood.

Scraps are generated at Fargo Truss by cutoffs. For example, if they are cutting 14-foot rafters out of 16-foot pieces of wood, there are two-foot pieces left over to be disposed. And things like this happen all day, every day, he said, creating substantial waste.

Its a good service for everybody, Orvik remarked. I mean, the horse bedding and animal bedding that they make is good for those people, and we dont have to pay to bring our wood to the Fargo landfill.

Winter drew a distinction between wood chips from the Fargo landfill and wood chips from Dakota Bedding.

The stuff we grind is much finer, he said. The landfill is mostly grinding chips that will be burned. They grind a lot of tree branches and things. That stuff is too moist for us to use for bedding. We dont grind trees. Wood for bedding needs to be dry, so it can absorb moisture.

NDSU Equine Associate Bobbi Bingeman is a consumer of Dakota Beddings product. She confirmed that good bedding must absorb moisture and praised Dakota Beddings wood chips as being effective to this end.

Its a quality product, she said. More so than sunflower seed hulls. My experience has been that they do not absorb as well because its like theres an oily substance on the hulls.

Dakota Bedding delivers 420-cubic-foot loads of bedding to NDSU every 10 days, she said, using their conveyor truck that dumps the product out the end. Then somebody from Bingemans crew uses a Bobcat to move the bedding into a storage area in the barn.

She said this makes economic sense and was actually the prime reason her department switched to use this service.

Before we used Dakota Bedding, we used a bagged product that came in semi loads. It was very labor intensive to unload the more than 1,000 bags by hand when the truck came. It would usually take about eight people to unload it, plus somebody on the Bobcat, she said.

Bingeman manages a crew of 15 people and a population of between 45 and 65 horses in NDSU.

With Dakota Bedding delivering, it saves us significant money because we dont have to pay for the packaging or handling of each individual unit.

Winter said Dakota Bedding has had to pass up calls from as far away as Iowa and Wisconsin but services within a radius as far away as Sioux Falls. Animal bedding is delivered by the semi-load or may be bought in a 45-pound bag. However, in the summer chips for landscaping will only be delivered in bulk, he said. People with junk wood can dispose of their wood at Pro Pallets site on 12th Avenue North in West Fargo.

Dakota Bedding is a division of Pro Pallet. For more information, call 451-1000.