Sustainable Waste Management in the Woodworking Industry

Paarhammer, Australia: Sustainable Waste Management in the Woodworking Industry
Paarhammer is a well-established Australian manufacturer for European-style windows and doors and it could be assumed that one of their most essential items is directly involved in the manufacturing process.

But in Paarhammer’s case, the essential component is a waste management system that produces briquettes from sawdust and off-cuts. “At the moment it’s the most essential item in the business,” managing director Tony Paarhammer proudly notes.

The search for European style doors and windows in Australia

This recycling system allows for an incredibly wide range of sustainable and profitable benefits and constitutes an integral part of Paarhammer’s sustainable manufacturing ideology. Paarhammer’s award-winning products are the result of more than 30 years of experience and range from the highest energy-efficient windows made in Australia to bushfire-proof windows.

Immigrated from Austria in 1990, Tony and Edith Paarhammer started their business in a garage with manufacturing fine furniture and European style kitchens. But one year later, their focus shifted while they were building their new home. Tony and Edith were surprised because “we couldn’t find any European style windows in Australia.”

Because of Tony’s background in window making, they decided to take matters into their own hands, and the idea of manufacturing European style windows in Australia was born. From the beginning, Paarhammer grew rapidly and for the 20th anniversary in 2010, the company moved into a new purpose-built factory.

The construction of this factory was driven by Paarhammer’s ideology of sustainable production. It is powered by an almost 100 kW photovoltaic solar
system, efficient light-management which reduces electricity needs, and water tanks to supply the factory.

Wood waste reduction by 95 percent

But the most important component to fulfill high sustainability goals is the waste management system that consists of the WEIMA WL 4 shredder (installed in the early 2000s) and the WEIMA TH 814 briquette press (installed in 2012). With this system, “we reduced our waste by 95 %,” Tony said.

Tony decided for WEIMA’s machines mainly because of the company’s local presence in Australia through CEMAC technologies.

“The local support was the most essential,” Tony said about his decision process. Additionally, WEIMA convinced with over 40 years of experience in manufacturing shredders and presses for the wood-working industry.

Since day one, the system with shredder and briquette press works efficiently in Paarhammer’s factory. Sawdust is separately accumulated by the duct of every producing machine and is then diverted into a hopper from where it flows into the briquette press.

Meanwhile, the WL 4 shreds larger wood off-cuts into small wood chips and thus makes them suitable for the press. The TH 814 briquette press then finally presses the sawdust and the wood chips into cylindrical 80 mm diameter briquettes.

“What we would have had to burn or pay to go to a landfill, now gets pressed into briquettes,” Tony said. Because of the briquette press, Paarhammer now has only of 1.5 m3 of waste a week, while generating 4 tonnes of briquettes in the same period, thereby reducing landfill by about 2,000 m3 per year. “The mixture of all this dust, shavings from the planer and the wood chips is almost the ideal mixture to make a compact briquette,” Tony said.

A “nice thing on the side”

Recycling sawdust and off-cuts is not only sustainable but profitable. While Paarhammer uses 30% of the briquettes to heat parts of the factory with a hydronic heating system, the remaining 70% are sold to local residents. A revenue Tony described as a “nice thing on the side”, and money he did not expect. Therefore, Tony exceeded his original calculation of Return on Investment by two years, which reduced it to less than five years.

Yet, WEIMA’s shredder and briquette press are not only profitable because they generate revenue, but they also save money. First, by reducing heating costs due to the usage in the hydronic heating system. Second, the combination of dust extraction, shredder and briquette press helps with housekeeping because it reduces the amount of waste or off-cuts lying around in the factory.

“All that is fully automatic”

Tony states: “We save probably one laborer wage a year in not having to deal manually with all this waste and we got a very clean, well-organized factory.”

A multifunctional system that heats, cleans, saves and generates money

Because of the huge environmental and monetary benefits, Tony highly recommends this waste management system because sawdust and off-cuts are “basically a good resource”. In the end, WEIMA’s wood shredder and briquette press help Paarhammer to make use of this resource within a multifunctional system that not only heats, cleans, and saves money but also generates a side revenue.

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