To handle disposal of wood waste, Franklin looks to burning over grinding

To handle disposal of wood waste, Franklin looks to burning over grinding

Franklin residents generate about 3,500 tons of wood waste, or yard waste, every year, and the Department of Sanitation and Environmental Services would like to use a new method for disposing of it. / Photo courtesy of city of Franklin


The city of Franklin is getting tired of the same old grind.

As a result, the Department of Sanitation and Environmental Services recently announced that it plans to do away with grinding wood waste the city collects from residents and will begin using a burner instead. Jack Tucker, the department’s director, and Marty Hilty from Public Works laid out the plan during the Jan. 8 work session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Bottom line, Tucker said during the presentation, converting to what is known as an air curtain burner from the current usage of a grinder would save the city nearly $138,000 per year in operation costs.

“The end result is really no comparison in what we could go to in a relatively short term by actually burning the wood waste on site,” Tucker explained. “The savings are substantial.”

Wood waste primarily comes from residential yards in Franklin and is placed in brown bags that are taken to the curb for weekly pickup by the city. Franklin’s collection of waste amounts to about 3,500 tons a year, and for years it has been carried to a diesel-powered grinder located at the city’s Century Court location. The waste is then grinded and most of it hauled to Bi-County landfill near Clarksville.

Total annual cost for disposal, operations and depreciation of equipment using Bi-County is $158,394. By going to a burning method, annual cost would be $20,918.

The annual savings in dollars is only part of the advantage of switching to a burning system, Hilty said. By purchasing an electric-powered burner manufactured by a company called Air Burners, carbon emissions would be significantly lower than the current grinder.

In fact, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation recommends using a burner over a grinder.

The city of Franklin has been using a grinder for years to handle wood waste disposal, but it plans to use a burning method instead.
Photo courtesy city of Franklin

“The grinder that we use is a 1,054-horsepower diesel motor, so you have not only emissions from the diesel engine but also have a significant amount of dust that’s generated from the use of it,” Hilty told the Franklin Home Page Thursday. “The other part of that is noise as well. At 60 decibels, the air curtain burner is about half of the grinder. Not only do we view the emissions to be less but noise pollution to be reduced as well.”

As for what becomes of the ash that’s left after burning, Hilty said it’s possible some can be used on the city’s compost pile located on Incinerator Road.

“That’s one item we’re still exploring,” he said. “We’ve had some initial conversations about using the ash on the compost. But too much of a good thing can almost be a bad thing, so we’re still trying to figure out what that balance is. We don’t have details yet on what the percentage of ash will go into the compost versus going into a landfill.”

Though Hilty and Tucker were making their presentation to Franklin’s aldermen, funds have already been appropriated for the purchase and a vote won’t be necessary.

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