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Thread: Wood disposal/recycling - MDF, melamine, etc?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Brush Prairie, WA

    Wood disposal/recycling - MDF, melamine, etc?

    With this huge shop remodel project, I'm left with stacks of scraps of wood all over the place - small cutoffs of plywood, stacks of melamine from failed cabinets that were torn down (they were literally dripping off the wall), OSB from the siding, T-111 from the siding as well, chunks of 2x4, 2x6. Some with paint, some without, some with nails, some stained.

    I'm left with easily a large truckload of wood scraps. The local transfer station has a "recycling" center, but they charge by the pound (not ton) plus $10, and everything has to be non-painted, non-stained, no plastic or melamine, no OSB, no manufactured wood at all. (So, I guess what they'd like is stacks of clear 8/4 cherry they can charge me to take.) Most of the scraps are really useless - no building anything out of them. Lots have sat in our rain, or are so warped (melamine) that I can't use them even to make bins or something.

    I have acreage, room to build a firepit, and a few burn piles, but it's not burning season. Should I stack everything somewhere in a materials pile and deal with it next year? Burn any/some/all of it? Run it through the chipper and pretend to mulch it? I don't want to do anything illegal/suspect/bad for the environment, and I hate to see it all go to the landfill. I have a woodstove we plan to install in a studio next year...again, I don't want to burn whatever contains formaldehyde, glues, plastics, resins...whatever.

    Should I pay the money to "dump" as garbage? It's only about $30 to dump it all as general garbage, but...I hate to think of this crap going in the ground, and I've certainly been rethinking the materials I buy from now on.

    So, any suggestions?

  2. #2

    I'd burn all of it except the Melamine. I use a backyard fireplace to do so. We've had plenty of rain lately so I think its safe to burn right now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Rio Rancho, NM
    I've been told that it's a no-no to burn melamine, plastic, OSB, or plywood in an area around people. Those materials put out some fumes that aren't good for people. I'd say that the T-111 is iffy, but you could burn the 2x4 and 2x6 cutoffs without a problem. I'd cut down the larger stuff and just dump it all into a garbage can for the regular pick-up, and burn the solid stuff. Or, if you are "forbidden" to do that my your local trash hauler, pay the money and get rid of it.

    And in your woodstove, burn only solid material, nothing with glue.

    Nancy (120 days)
    Nancy Laird
    Owner - D&N Specialties, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
    Woodworker, turner, laser engraver; RETIRED!
    Lasers - ULS M-20 (20W) & M-360 (40W), Corel X4 and X3
    SMC is user supported.
    It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    A friend has a good sized cabinet shop and he has a service that picks up all of his scrap. He rips it into 12" x 36" pieces and tosses it into a construction sized dumpster and they haul it off weekly for recycling. He tosses virtually everything, even the cherry and walnut veneered ply that we all would hoard for ever, as well as the plastic laminates. He says it is too costly to inventory small, even 1/2 sheet sized pieces. Try calling local production shops and see if they have a similar service. Good luck, John.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Griswold Connecticut

    I'd just pay to dump it, but..... I know in my area all of that type of material goes to an incinerator( We have two).
    If it goes to an incinerator. Send it to the dump.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Shoot, here in Michigan we burn all that stuff in the campfire. When the black smoke clears, break out the weenies.
    Kyle in K'zoo
    Screws are kinda like knots, if you can't use the right one, use lots of 'em.
    The greatest tragedy in life is the gruesome murder of a beautiful theory by a brutal gang of facts.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Binghamton, NY
    I don't mean to step on anyone's toes.

    Just will give my opinion since that is the OP's question...

    I never burn anything but pure wood. Around here people burn literally anything from tires to PT lumber to plastics to garbage, and it gives off an unholy smell. AFAIK nobody has keeled over dead from doing this, but that is not how it works. Toxic deposits in the air and soil will accumulate in your body over time. Lots of people get cancer and then just think it happened for no reason at all, when they might even be eating vegetables from a garden that is only 100 feet from the garbage burn site. The effect of burning a substance down to ash tends to concentrate the heavier elements and then leave them in the soil, to be spread around by root action and eventually find their way into fruits, veggies, cows, people etc..

    My county dump accepts household trash and construction waste at the rate of 3$ per ton. I usually go once every several months and rarely have more than a hundred pounds, including household waste. Municipal incinerators usually have particulate filters to catch most of the offending substances and then they have to make proper disposal of the ash. They also burn using a much more controlled temperature and get closer to complete combustion. An open flame is not anywhere near complete.

    Just my opinion
    Last edited by Andrew Williams; 08-23-2007 at 3:27 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    I agree with Andrew. Landfills and waste incinerators are designed to safely handle this type of material. Burning or chipping it yourself will result in a greater release of crud into the environment.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    While it may be cheaper to burn, the safest and healthiest thing to do is to take it to the dump. I don't know where you live but I'm not interested in breathing or having my kids breath MDF by-products.


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