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Virginia Recycler ’Foaming’ for Colored Mulch Mix

Wed July 20, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Larry Trojak



Owner Larry Waltrip is proud of his company, Waltrip Recycling, an operation he said is like no other.

One of the larger recyclers of wood waste in southeastern Virginia, Waltrip has spent the last 13 years growing an operation that uses equal parts technology, innovation and forward-thinking to create a broad range of products for commercial and residential use. It’s no surprise then, that when he decided to add colored mulch to his product mix, he would first do a great deal of research before making his selection.

The result of his efforts has been the addition of a WizTech FlashFoam Coloring System, produced by Wizard Technologies of Toms River, NJ, working in conjunction with an existing Diamond-Z trommel; a smooth, seamless integration into his existing system; a new range of colored products and no worries about excessive water use or subsequent runoff.

Extra Landfill Life

For years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Waltrip had built a solid construction and land clearing career while at the same time operating the area landfill. Seeing the volumes of valuable landfill space being taken up by logs, stumps and other wood waste debris prompted the move to yet another endeavor, that of wood waste recycler.

“There was really a twofold reason for getting into recycling,” he said. “I saw that, with some hard work, the wood material could be turned into a marketable commodity. More importantly, however, I saw that recycling the debris could add years to the life of the landfill. When we started, it was estimated that the landfill had one more year of life left; we are only now reaching capacity and getting ready to shut down. So we extended the life of this landfill by better than 13 years and have been able to develop a nice mix of wood products in the process.”

That range of products to which Waltrip refers — more than 150,000 yds. of it each year — includes pine nuggets, several different grades of mulch, material for boiler fuel, playground material, blended soil materials and more.

Coat of Many Colors

As with any operation, Waltrip’s recycling business must keep abreast of changes and customer preferences, and that includes meeting ever-changing landscaping trends. As colored mulch gained in popularity on the eastern seaboard, he knew a change would have to be made.

“We saw that colored mulch was growing in popularity and knew at some point we would get into it and offer colored products. However, I hate to jump into anything without first seeing all the possibilities and alternatives; I’ve done that with everything including just about every piece of equipment we use on site here.

“So we did more than three years of research into all the existing colorizing technologies and came away with a lot of impressions.”

Those impressions, he said, were that many companies which claimed “the best process available,” hadn’t really figured it all out themselves.

“Many of these processes are water-intensive which, obviously, raises your costs to produce colored material. Some generate material which can have a lengthy drying time, making an on-site stockpiling area necessary. In addition, many of them were also prone to runoff from the finished product, which is not only messy, but it runs contrary to what the EPA demands of us as material processors. The WizTech Fiber Coloring System on the other hand, is foam-based and gives us a product right out of the trommel that is fully-colored, dry and ready to use. Water consumption is a fraction of what other processes demand and there is absolutely no runoff. It’s really everything we were looking for in a colorizing process.”

The Wizard’s Secrets

As Waltrip alluded to, WizTech’s approach to colorizing differs from anything else available today in a number of ways.

Because it is foam-based (as opposed to traditional wet or dry pigment systems), WizTech’s FlashFoam system provides immediate coverage — and does so while eliminating the environmental risks inherent in most wet or dry pigment systems. It is effective at providing color depth and coverage even on problematic materials such as green wood, dark fiber, stump, root and pallet. It also is designed to work with a range of primary processing equipment including tub grinders, horizontal grinders or trommel screeners, a feature that proved especially attractive to Waltrip.

“I know that a lot of people are using the foam system right off their grinder and that application works well for them,” Waltrip said. “However, because a good portion of our business involves blowing mulch — we have a fleet of eight blower trucks — our criteria for size are a lot tighter than most others doing colorizing. So we have our Diamond-Z model 8300 trommel set up to work in conjunction with WizTech’s P-60 colorizing unit and it really works well.

“Wizard also did some custom modifications to the trommel itself to enhance its versatility during the colorizing process. By simply adding or removing panels inside the screen, we can either color all the material or, at the same time, screen fines out of the front part of the machine and color the passing mulch all in a single pass. The foam makes it easy to get the coverage we need, yet still allows us to maintain production rates at 300 yards an hour.

“In addition, because of the system’s flexibility, we have the option of doing single-pass grinding and coloring through our Morbark 5600 horizontal grinder. We are currently in discussions with Morbark about the purchase of a larger model 6600 horizontal grinder, which Wizard can immediately set up for single pass grinding and coloring. The versatility is a huge benefit to have.”

The Personal Touch

Waltrip’s penchant for personalizing his equipment to get it to work best for his operation has resulted in an overall process that is substantially different from that of most other wood waste recyclers. In fact it was his reluctance to “reinvent the wheel” that initially intrigued him about WizTech’s colorizing process.

“I have all the equipment I need and I have it tweaked to the way I like it so when I was looking at colorizing systems, I knew I didn’t need another trommel screen or a grinder that colorized. I needed a system that could be integrated into what we already have, and WizTech has done that nicely. They understood our operation, listened to our needs and were excellent at working with us to make it all work. In addition, the WizTech P-60 unit is trailer-mounted for mobility, which we liked, and is essentially self-operating which fits well with the streamlined nature of our operation.”

Waltrip said their willingness to look at emerging technologies has rarely disappointed them and his crew’s experience with WizTech is yet another example of that.

“We’ve been extremely pleased with the results we’ve gotten from the new colorizing process and the new products we can now take to our customers. Innovation has been a real key to our success and we work hard to maintain that competitive edge. As a result, a lot of companies try hard to get to where we are, and when they do we’re already somewhere else. That’s just the way we are.”

For more information, call Waltrip at 757/229-0434 or visit www.waltriprecycling.com or call Wiztech at 732/730-0800 or visit www.wiztech.com.