Cleaner Compost: Delivering A Near-Pristine Product!
A plastic-removal system works in tandem with a composter’s screen plant to make a near-pristine product.
A wheel loader dumps green waste containing pieces of plastic into a grinder’s hopper. A moment later, that plastic is ground into an infinite number of itty-bitty pieces that are dispersed in the processed material.
This can be a nightmarish scenario for compost producers facing government regulations limiting how much contamination can be present in a finished product. Just ask Bob Dressel, owner of North Mason Fiber Co. in Belfair, Wash., which produces organic compost, landscaping bark and more from raw products such as land-clearing debris, yard waste and fish waste.
For years, Dressel had to live with the contamination and hope his compost was up to spec. Dressel no longer has to worry, though, because of an investment he made in a machine that removes plastic and other lightweight materials from compost.
The machine, the Airlift Separator, removes about 95 percent of the plastic from North Mason’s McCloskey 733 trommel screening plant – and it removes between 50 and 80 percent of plastic on the first pass through it, Dressel says.
“Anything over 70 percent is what most compost producers are going for,” says Jimmy Smith, a manufacturer rep who started with Lane Forest Products 12 years ago and now works for Hawker Corp., which makes the Airlift Separator. “If you can remove more than 50 percent of the plastic on your oversized product, you’re making headway.”
So an achievement of 95 percent removal is that much more remarkable.
“I think the whole industry, including myself, was very skeptical about the Airlift Separator at first,” Dressel says. “They really made some phenomenal improvements in the thing. That says a lot about the piece of equipment. It sometimes takes time to make something really good. The Airlift Separator is one of those things. It’s one of the products we use here at the plant that are made really well.”
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