A Waste of Space

Grundon is a national waste management company we pay to take away our general waste and recycled materials. This last week there was a little waste left in my waste bin that this general waste company refused to take. Why? Because there was a bucket full of beautiful curly wood shavings in the bin.

Now in general waste there can be anything that cannot generally be recycled, everything from rags and broken bricks to non recyclable plastic containers, styrofoam, bubblewrap or whatever. Now some of you might recall the lengthy efforts I went to to make wooden bins to replace the ugly plastic ones I had currently been using in an effort to improve my footprint on the earth. I then found a maker of cotton bags to which I added brass rings and draw strings for dry shavings that fit inside the bin and so on.

It works wonderfully. Well, this week this yellow tag was fastened to my wheelie bin.

“Contaminated”! the tag said…it went on to say that it was contaminated with sawdust which was not the case at all. The wood shavings were directly from my hand planes. There was no dust per se but there would be sawn chips from my handsaws but not actual dust. So I asked myself just what do I pay them £60 a month to take away if wood shavings are not acceptable but all of the other world-contaminating stuff is OK?

100 thoughts on “A Waste of Space”

  1. Bert Moltmaker

    I understand your frustration! Have had such a lable on my container to (in the Netherlands) But maybe it’s the other way around? These curls are recyclable and when people do put consistently recyclable materials in the general waste bin, there would be no need for a second bin for recyclable waste….maybe that’s why they are putting these labels on..to ensure it’s worth having more than one container?

    Greetings, Bert

    1. I wish I thought like you. But I am more of a realist. I think it’s more that they didn’t know the difference between wood and wood dust. I once went to the recycle centre and they told me I couldn’t unload my wood offcuts unless `i poaid them for special waste. I also had some odd pieces of furniture that were past their best. I asked what the difference was between the wooden furniture and the wooden offcuts. They said the furniture was acceptable wood. I mean we are talking yet again a small amount. They wanted £10 from me to take the wood offcuts. The next time i went they were accepting all wood with no charge. Oh well. And by the way, sometimes `i will use the shavings to mop up glue or wipe off oil off my tools and so they go into a contaminated bin and not my recyclable stuff. Wood shavings and offcuts are generally not accepted as recyclable materials by our UK waste companies. Wood comes under a heading ‘Prohibited materials” so my shavings were in the correct bin.

      1. Where I am in the North East US we have two large bins, one is for recycling only. By that they mean it has to have a recycling logo on it or a can or bottle, otherwise it’s trash and goes in the other bin. Because these bins are picked up by a mechanical arm they can’t tell what’s in the bin when it’s dumped into the garbage truck. So people just fill them up and a lot of them don’t pay attention to what goes in.
        It’s all very ineffective and expensive. Everyone generates a lot of waste and taking care of it all is a big business that eats up our tax dollars.
        I wish there wasn’t so much waste but the packaging our food comes in and the boxes and packages we get our mail orders from just creates a lot of waste. The styrofoam popcorn is the worst and the plastic airbags are a close second.

        1. Tom,
          Take the styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap and airbags to a UPS store or other pack and ship place and if it is clean they will take it and reuse. I have also found that they will accept cardboard boxes that are good condition.

          1. Not economical if no such place exists for miles though – time, petrol etc.

        2. Just a thought: Wood chips will compost. (Some woods more quickly than others, of course.) Wood chips are also a popular mulch. If you can keep them separate from other trash, you and your neighbors might be able to turn this into a recycling opportunity, reducing the waste stream and perhaps your carting cost.

          (Here in Eastern Massachusetts, most non-commercial waste removal is a town service, including separate pick up for industrial scale composting of “yard waste”. The former will accept small quantities of “construction debris’ such as offcuts; the latter will accept sawdust and chips. And my neighborhood is pretty good about sharing stuff that might be reused. Including woodworking; I just acquired a nice old lectern for the cost of picking it up.)

          1. Richard King

            Composted sawdust and shavings make fantastic soil conditioner and breakdown even faster when mixed with grasscuttings.

      2. “When the Chips are Down”
        Hello Paul: The short story “Pigs is Pigs” by Stephen Leacock May have the answer. A father goes to the train station long ago to pick up a pair of guinea pigs. The stationmaster wants to charge him for domestic pigs. Father refuses to pay the farm pigs rate and leaves them. The mayhem ensues. The short story is also about decision making and passing the buck in large companies. The ending is priceless.
        Jerry Walker

        1. David Lamplough, in Adelaide, South Australia.

          Hi all, … I live in South Australia, & we have THREE Bins, … Red Bin for General Waste/Rubbish, Yellow Bin for all the recyclable stuff, & the Green Bin for Garden stuff, & compostable stuff, like Vegetable scraps & wood pieces /Sawdust/shavings/ & ash from the fireplace. The Green bin is collected every second week, & it goes to a Company that specializes in making Garden Mulch. The Yellow bin is collected on the opposite week to the Green bin, & the red bin is collected every week.

          1. Malcolm J Cunningham

            G’day David, my name is Malcolm and I live near Melbourne.We also have a three bin system much same as yours. However I try to compost as much “green waste” as possible. The veggie garden says it all. And thank you too ☺️.
            I really like reading Mr Sellers blogs.
            Regards Malcolm Cunningham.

        2. Christopher Griggs

          Jerry, I read your comment an was interested to find this short story, many thanks I found it hilarious. I tracked it down and just for completeness thought I’d add my findings, the story was written by Ellis Parker Butler sometime at the turn of the last century and included in an anthology of short stories edited by Stephen Leacock.
          A darn good read though regardless of author.

      3. Here in Australia we have two bins, one for general waste and the other for recyclable waste. In the first bin we fill it up using rubbish bags and tie them off and the second we don’t. By using rubbish bags which are fairly large, no one knows what’s in them. That’s how I dispose of my shavings. Btw £60 a month is a rip off and I thought Australia was bad.

      4. JOHN R ALLEN

        This a prime example of “Little People and to much Power” Bureaucrats at their best.

        1. Flemming Aaberg

          I’ve never heard a garbo described as a bureaucrat – how the world is changing:)

          1. Malcolm J Cunningham

            G’day Flemming, it’s not the Garbo per se ,but the little punkwood sitting behind a compressed woodchip desk, with noticing to do with his time but to think think up ways to annoy the population.
            i.e. a bureaucrat!
            Regards Malcolm

      5. Jesse Terpstra

        I use shavings and off cuts for the fire, at least it can be useful to the last to warm me and cook some food once in a while.

      6. The town I live in the NE US has a green bin for waste and and a blue bin for recycling, my workshop 1 mile away has a black bin for waste and a green bin for recycling, 1 mike in the other direction I’m building a house where we have a green bin for waste and a black bin for recycling. Confused? Yeap especially when you see the same truck collect both colours on the same collection round. Oh and to add to Paul’s point I have been told that my wood waste is industrial waste that I need a permit to dispose of and of course it costs money. Who is the fool here?

    2. Denis woodcock

      We have brown bins for garden rubbish all my sawdust, shavings, garden grass goes in and this is composted and recycled. Wood can also go in up to the diameter of a bean can. Just another case of post code lottery.

      Keep up the good work Paul and team.

    3. when I clean up my shavings i keep them apart and i give them to a shamaan who uses them to mix them with the herbs he burns to clean up a home from the spirits….he is very happy with them because they are so pure….i image I can even sell them like this…..

    4. Hi Paul , I put all my wood shavings onto my allotment compost bin – compost should be made up of “green” waste – plants grass clippings etc and “brown” waste- paper card and wood shavings are ideal- just a thought…

  2. Alan Hufnagel

    I found the fact they wouldn’t take wood shavings, a biodegradable material, very funny. We have a zero environmental impact solution. Offcuts are burned in our wood burning stove, providing heat in the winter. The shavings go into the garden compost pile to make new soil.

    Alan (Michigan, USA)

    1. What’s really funny is that if I hide it in a black plastic bag then it becomes perfectly acceptable.

        1. Well, it is funny. And noteworthy, the humorous Paul observation was a commentary on the shortsighted, ineffective, transformative, plastic rapping in the eyes of a waste collecting company and not a “to-do” suggestion.

          1. What is funny about hiding material that shouldn’t go in to a non-recyclable bin, in a black bag?

            And doing that is definitely not acceptable.

            This post is nothing more than an entitled old man venting his spleen.
            He needs to grow up.

          2. Peter Baillie

            “Funny” as in “odd”, Tom.

            You take it too literally. And you just had your own ‘vent’. You’re the childish one here, mate.

          3. Peter Baillie

            And perfectly acceptable to the disposal company, Tom. Not to the people commenting here.

          4. Quite the lickspittle aren’t you Peter?

            Did the bad man say not nice things about Saint Paul?

          5. Peter Baillie

            No, not at all Tom. Just thought you needed educating. And perhaps to learn some manners.

          6. Ah, I see.
            No you thought wrong.

            Maybe do some work on your own attitude before you try to police others.

        2. Tom Slater,

          You seem like a pretty hostile kind of guy. Maybe you should go for a walk or go spend some time in your woodshop. It would do you and everyone else some good if the alternative is to keep up making rude and petty comments while demonstrating an abject inability to ‘get’ irony.

          It’s not a contribution if all you do is whine.


          1. You know that from this brief Exchange do you?

            Good game. My turn.

            Paul G, you seem like a supercilious kind of person.
            Why don’t you do something about that?

            It’s not a contribution if all you do is close down any criticism of Saint Paul.

          2. QED.

            You should go for a long walk on a short pier, Tom. It would do you some good.

      1. I put all of my shavings on the fire to light it. I bet if you put yours out on the local Facebook page for free someone will have it and recycle it, be it to burn or for the chicken hut.

  3. While I’m sure I don’t generate as much as you do Paul, I use mine for BBQ. We bbq often – all year round, and today is a perfect day for it here in Warrington. Now I’m a two person family with small wood curl output; you’re a large family with a larger curl output. Have more family bbqs and so neutralise the waste company’s spiteful attitude.
    I remember one of the people working for you used to collect the shavings at penrhynn. I also compost with mine, too.

    1. Where I am, organic materials aren’t accepted in our non-recyclable bin (for non-recyclable plastics / metals, etc. only for landfill sites) because of the methane (big global warmer) produced by decomposition.
      We also have a recyclables bin (recyclable plastics, paper, cardboard, bottles, etc.)
      We compost all our kitchen/garden waste for our cut flower gardening business, but I have no idea what we’d do with it if we weren’t gardeners.
      I’m afraid when things go badly wrong, as they have with our wildly over-complicated consumer culture, the solution will always be unwieldy, overcomplicated and inefficient as well.
      1)Create less waste
      2)Tke responsibilty for finding secondary uses for it
      3)Don’t leave it to big corporations and inefficient governments to take responsibility. They won’t.

      1. That’s insane. Now decomposition of organic material, a completely natural process, is — wait for it — *bad* for the environment??!! What in the world do you think is happening on all the forest floors of the world?? All that decomposition is feeding trees, and producing (gasp) methane. Time to ban composting … and forests. Sound logic there.

        1. Ok I’ll admit I jumped the gun. Anyone interested can search aerobic vs anaerobic decomposition conditions.

  4. Same problem here. Our council green waste bin, which takes grass cuttings through to smaller tree branches, refused wood shavings.

  5. Craig Medvecky

    the problem is not the material itself it’s the fact that the people who pick it up do not want to lift the can it’s too big and heavy for them to lift 10000 of those cans they wanted be able to only take out the plastic bags so they’re not going to pick up your can no matter what is in it they want you to put it in a bag so it’s easy for them to reach in and grab the bag out maybe you can try a paper bag.

    1. Not so at all! Collectors never lift the bins they place them behind the truck which lifts, tips, dumps and returns gently to the ground. The wheels are almost effortless too.

  6. In my little corner of the world (Northeast USA), we use paper lawn & leaf bags for yard and garden waste. The city picks these up once a week and takes them to a city run decomposition area where they basically make mulch. City residents can collect this for their gardens and lawns at no charge, others have to pay for it. I bag my shavings, off cuts and recyclable wood waste in these bags (no pressure treated lumber) and the city carts it off. I mix in shredded paper and some lawn clippings when I have them to help the wood decompose faster.

  7. Richard Kelly

    We have a ‘Green Bin’ and I asked my Council about putting wood shavings in it. Fortunately I got a sensible reply:

    “Many Thanks for your email. You are able to put wood shavings in your green bin. As long as any wood does not exceed a width of 4 inches this can be put into the green bin.

    If the shavings are very fine similar to sawdust please note that often we find that they stick to the side of the bins and therefore when emptied do remain in the bin. The crew won’t be able to do anything to remove any residual waste from the bin. “

  8. Hi Paul,

    I live a few miles North East of you in Toot Baldon.

    South Oxon operate a 3 bin policy; black, green and brown. Brown is garden waste which includes hay, straw and Sawdust (soiled animal bedding from non-meat eating animals only eg rabbits)

    I stick my shavings in there if I don’t burn in the garden incinerator. They’ve not refused them…. yet!!

    Will South Oxon Council not pick up in Abingdon rather than pay extra to Grundon?

  9. Donald L Kreher

    If I bag the shavings and put in either non-recyclable or recyclable it will disappear. They don’t want loose material that will blow away when dumped. But I think no one is paying attention. I think it is because no one pays attention, that recycling programs ill grind to a halt.

    Oddly enough our blue bin is non-recyclable waist and we get free yellow plastic bags for recyclables. There is an additional green bin you can get to put green yard waist in for an additional charge. Maybe I can share such a bin with my neighbor who whittles. First I have to find out if they will take the shavings.

    1. We’re asked not to bag non-recyclables round here. As I said earlier, this isn’t a dilemma that anyone else will solve, certainly not governments or profit-making corporations.

      Socrates, on seeing the wealth of things available to buy in the Agora market:
      “When I think of all the things I can do without!”

  10. I have used mine in the past for compost and fire starter.

    Another use for shavings/sawdust/paper is to make compressed wood bricks to burn in a stove/fireplace.

    If you can get a lot of material, you could make pellets for pellet stoves.

    1. Peter Baillie

      I do the same, Tom. All my paper/cardboard mixed with sawdust and shavings make some great fire bricks.

      My mate makes pellets and sells them, also.

  11. Doug Hathaway

    I find their policy of not taking wood shavings odd. I use all of my shavings (and they are considerable) as a soil additive in my yard. It works great.

    If the company is into recycling, it seems to me that they could turn wood shavings into a cash flow.

    I scratch my head with you.

    1. If you are classifying the wood waste as recyclable, then it was in the wrong bin.

      Bin is clearly marked non recyclables only.

      1. Peter Baillie

        Didn’t read the post, Tom? Post is clearly saying the wood waste is non-recyclable.

  12. Back in the 50’s we had a small dust bin at the side of our house never more than half full, collected once a week……..food waste….no such thing, mother was very ingenious, if you were hungry you would eat it. Or give it to the chickens.
    No such thing as throw away …..we couldn’t afford to buy it!!
    NO plastic wrappings back then……just brown paper bags…..mum would tell me when I went to the green grocer……ask the man politely to put the cabbage in the bag first cos potatoes might be wet and rot the carry bag, me, being shy at 5yrs..didn’t ask one time and bottom of back fell out!!

    As for wood shavings….Dad didn’t own a plane

    Said to my wife the other day ” we need a watering can with a long spout to reach wall baskets”. After pondering how I could make one, I made a trip to our local refuse yard and a young lady was throwing one out.
    “Hello could I have that please?” ….”yes but it has a small hole in the bottom”. Took it home and repaired it ….perfect.

    Reason I call my self “John2v”. Is because I bought two perfect 10″ record quick release bench vices for 99pence on eBay….ok I did actually give man £1

    1. That’s before body refinement in leotards for men. The dustman and the coal man hoisted both bins and coal onto their backs or shoulders too, and carried both from the back of every house to the bin lorry. We always tipped both at Christmas. Wo betide you if the tip wasn’t a note. Both had the capacity to dump stuff on the path.

    2. ”yes but it has a small hole in the bottom”.

      Waste not want not…

      Should be relatively easy to patch, either gluing on a patch (won’t work if it’s polypropylene (PP) though, terrible material to repair, only welding will do, which actually isn’t that hard), or the old-fashioned trick of two metal washers, two rubber washers and a bolt with nut through the lot to compress it together and seal.That’s the way they used to repair (rather: quickly fix/bodge) broken water kettles too.

      Surprizing how people complain about ‘disposable’ plastic bags, or even particle board. A few days ago my ‘regular’ plastic bag broke, after 4-5 months of daily use. THAT was the moment I got rid of it, and not the day it was given to me by the shop. About 3-4 weeks ago I took apart a closet that my mother bought in the late ’50s, made of a combination of particle board and ‘furniture board’, i.e. strips of wood with a veneer over it on both sides. Yes, cheap materials. But they needn’t be tossed out after 4 years because the particular colour has gone out of fashion…. This one lasted over half a century, and the particle board was carefully removed to find a new life as (cheap and nasty) shelves in the garden shed.

      The problem is not the material – it’s the attitude that people have, to treat some materials, and even some slightly damaged goods as your waterer, as disposable. It’s all between the ears. But I’m biased: I managed to pay my way through university repairing TVs and VCRs in the days before these were disposable items too….

      1. Thanks Nemo. Easy peasy …..just gave a squirt of mastic…..fantastic lead sealant type…….I was using to seal a lead flashing …..bingo “waterer” now works a treat

        1. I lifted a Hawes galvanised watering can out of a skip last year with a small split around the bottom, 1/2 and inch of plumbing solder later and it’s good to.

          Staggering what people throw out, I also lift amazing amounts of mahogany and sapele boards out of skips (brown furniture) that tend to be better than you can buy new at the timber yard.

  13. Arrr got you there Paul ” took bins from back of every house” you were from “upnorth” were houses had back yards and alley ways (kept clean, with children playing hop scotch….hoops……cricket.
    A tip in a note form…..lowest note I new was 10/- (50p) and dad earned
    5 of those i.e. £2.10.0. ….(£2.50). A week!!
    Give the man a tip? “no one gives me a tip”. He once worked over time on a Sunday …came home with 5bob (5/- or 25p). Mum said “that’s good Bert John needs a new pair of shoes”
    Our coal man was so hard one time….all he had was a glass of water and a peanut to eat…..and that got stuck in between his tooth
    A tip my dad gave me was don’t let your bike wheel go down a tram line
    Cos you would have to go to the tram depot to get it out.

  14. Kathleen Basiewicz

    I put all my wood shaving and sawdust around the base of my trees to help keep the water in and the weeds out. It isn’t perfect, but it helps and I don’t have to worry about what to do with it.

  15. Well, if wood shavings cannot be recycled (re-used to make any another thing, I mean), they are a not recyclable waste. And if it is organic waste, as it is, it must be put in the general organic waste bin, I think. It is not plastic, metal or glass, so I think it must be treated in a different way. Wood is not a contaminating product, anyway, unless it is stained with some solvent or similar. Wood shavings have no metals, no volatile hydrocarbons, not toxic products. Much more “accepted” products are more hazardous to enviroment than wood, and they go to general waste bins everyday.

  16. Jerry Brasier

    I got a kick out of all of the comments regarding the trash. It reminded me of when we were in Germany in the ’60s with a family of four, and the trash containers were about half (or less) the diameter of the ones you are using. If the lids were even slightly ajar from overfilling they wouldn’t pick it up…until I started leaving a couple of old Playboy magazines in top of the can!

  17. I think they didn’t took the waste since it could spread into the air while they discharge the bin in the truck.

    I checked Grundon website, it looks like they send “general waste” to an incinerator to produce power. So putting wood shavings in a bag to produce energy is not a bad idea.

  18. Adriano J. M. Rosa

    I have read the comments about “waste of space” and have come to the conclusion that the problem is the same in all countries.
    If you pay you can do anything you want, even kill a person (and I’m not kidding), if you do not pay you can not do anything, nor send a cigarette blab to the floor or you’ll pay a fine!
    I want to say that if you pay the trash company, even for services you do not need, they will be happy and take all the garbage. What matters to garbage companies is the profit they can make with the least effort, or even no effort.
    If it were possible they would do nothing and take all your money from you.
    Do not think that changing service providers gets better served.
    This is what this wonderful liberal world does to you!

  19. In Illinois I take clean styrofoam to a “pack and ship” company. The re-use the styrofoam and at least it gets a second life. Here in the U.S. clean styrofoam can be put in the recycle bin. The half life of the stuff in infinity and shouldn’t be used at all.

  20. I find wood shavings, sawdust etc too valuable to throw out (although I’m sure I don’t produce nearly the volume you do Paul). Sawdust is saved for soaking up spills, or for use a brown compost material, (if it is from natural, untreated wood). Shavings are saved for fire and BBQ lighting. A local joiner sells his “by products” for animal bedding.

  21. I must be lucky living in Somerset UK as they have no problem taking wood shavings in my grass bin, they will even empty my cyclone dust collector bin into the back of the lorry if asked!

  22. Kenneth Jensen

    I live in an apartment(not a house) in Copenhagen. De sort our trash into 9 different categories:

    General waste (all that’s left from above)

    Besides that we have a place to put larger pieces like furniture, and we also have a special place for anything in the “dangerous waste” category.

    All in all it makes sense to sort at the source, and most of the time the plastic, cardboard and general waste are the ones we use.

  23. Darren Wheatley

    Our council (Wiltshire) just recently left us a note saying that recycling was mandatory now (good), and that they would be searching the wheelie bins for recyclable materials, and rejecting the bin if they find them.

  24. The picture you show of the contents of your bin shows cartons, cardboard and a latex glove as well as wood shavings. If this is a bin for composting garden trimmings, I’m not surprised they won’t take it. Are you expecting someone to pick out the cartons and gloves before they put the rest in the composter? My apologies if I’ve misunderstood what the bin is for.

  25. J. R. K. Voûte

    Here among the apple orchards in South Africa a lot of old fruit trees are chipped and used to create a bed around the new trees to inhibit weeds and improve water retaining capacity. As such your gardening might benefit, or even some council plantings. Ultimately the shavings will turn to compost. Bedding in stables etc. would need rather large amounts to be worth it. If any of species in your shavings have negative properties another solution should be found.

  26. Michael Barnes

    I live in West Cornwall and our waste removal and recycling people are a joke, they will use almost any excuse not to take away waste or recycling. The recycling people have now told us they no longer accept the tetrapak containers you get the likes of fresh orange juice in. The container says it’s recyclable and we’ve been putting them in the recycling for years with no issue…now they don’t want them so I now have to put my recyclable containers into the general waste which will likely end up in land fill.
    Not so long ago I filled my wheelie bin as usual, but one bag was just a bit large and so the lid of the bin wouldn’t fully close…it sat up maybe an inch at best….they didn’t empty it….I was left with a full bin heading into a new week so had to as a neighbour if I could pinch some space in their bin as they are a small family….thankfully they agreed or I’d have had two full bins worth of waste for only one bin (we don’t even have recycling bins…we get given coloured bags).
    We pay almost £3000 a year in council tax yet more and more I find myself sorting my own waste and disposing of it myself, so what am I paying them for? Other services perhaps? Well I’ve lived here 30 years and I’ve seen two police cars here in that time, and one of them was lost! I’ve seen one fire engine and an ambulance maybe a handful of times at most.
    The roads are a disgrace, crumbled, potholed and the hedges are massively overgrown to the sides and the footpaths are near impassable and the whole village only has one street light to maintain….all the responsibility of the council. It seems like we pay more and more each year (12% increase for me this year) and get less and less in return.

    1. US recycled stuff is stuffed into ships and sent to China for processing. These ships bring goods, and return with trash. The Chinese determine what they will accept. So, the push back on items accepted for recycle starts in Shanghai, and goes all the way back to the curb in front of your house. The Chinese figure out what kind of stuff is profitable, and don’t want the rest. This ain’t charity.

  27. I am personally appalled that a private company is taking care of this : trash collection should be very basic public service. It puts the completely wrong mindset on the workers : that the job they are doing is for they company’s profit, and not for the good of the community. The state feels like they are more in control because the hired contractors are just a line in the budget spreadsheet, but we all end up losing in the end.

    1. Municipalities in the US hire private contractors to do all kinds of things. A number of years back, Missouri started switching the DMV offices (Department of Motor Vehicles) from state employees to private contractors. The public freely chose to go to the private locations because they could get in and out so much faster.

      Lots of trash collection is by private contractors engaged by the city. Other departments are a mix of govt employees and contractors. My recycle can in Florida is picked up by a contractor’s truck. My trash can right next to it is picked up the same day by a city truck. Why? Because that’s the cheapest way to do it.

  28. If it’s shavings or sawdust from “normal” wood (not pressure-treated wood or plywood/OSB/MDF, etc) then I put it in a pile in the garden to compost down and enrich my soil. Recycling via nature, rather than via corporations.

  29. John Marrazzo

    Paul, bag up your shavings and sell it as “Emergency tinder – genuine wood shavings from Paul Sellers’ No. 4 hand plane” to all the wanna be bushcrafters and outdoors people. Recycle and make a buck, er .. a couple of quid in your case at the same time.

  30. norman lafond

    I live in Manhattan, NYC. Our recycling program has become very effective and popular. Almost everything my wife and I process has become recyclable: plastic items, electronics, paper of all sorts, metal, metal foils, plastic bags, plastic films and most recently, compost-able items like table scraps, lawn clippings, small pieces of wood, wood shavings, sawdust and soiled paper plates, napkins etc. The city uses the compost for our parks department. The only thing we generate that we cant recycle is anything styro-foam. I think styro-foam can be recycled but the city does not process that . So our trash that goes to the landfill is down by 95%. When I am tempted not to sort things I just think for a moment about this; there are 8 million of us in NYC then I look at the bag, bottle or can, that I am holding, and think about 8 million of them. Then I pick myself up and carry on with the sorting. Once you get in the habit, not hard at all.

  31. We are fortunate that we have only 2 (*or 3 or 4) bins. One is for mixed recycling of paper, card, plastics and glass. The other is for everything else which is then incinerated generating electricity and heat. So wood, contaminated paper etc goes to fuel the power. Metals are sorted out with magnets and non-combustibles shaken out. All in all it is an efficient system, especially as we have just gone from a 9 bags and boxes recycling regime. *The third item is food waste for certain areas in our district, also one can pay extra for green waste from the garden

  32. Steve Miller

    Thanks, all, for the suggestions about recycling peanuts, Styrofoam, and other packaging material with a pack-and-ship store. I’ll have to see if the neighborhood shop will accept.

    As for sawdust and shavings, do you know any raku potters? They are looking for combustibles for the smoking process, and our waste is perfect for the job!

  33. Terry Davies

    Only just discovered your blog Paul and as a decrepit 70 year old lifetime amateur dust maker I was bowled over by your knowledge, talent and generosity in sharing. Absolutely loved the rag in a can – wife now has one for the wooden handled garden tools. Staggered how much diversity a handful of shavings can produce. Had to adjust my brain when I read “This is what this wonderful liberal world does to you!” but brain stopped momentarily with “If you pay you can do anything you want, even kill a person”. I suspect that a certain Vladimir Putin is on your blog under an assumed name! I would love to see the logic trail between your poor shavings and contract killing. On topic, I try to use the right bin but will not spend hours to see if my bigger shavings have a recycling logo. All I can suggest is that on a personal and a state level, a bit of give and take and a dose of common sense might help.

  34. Douglas Howe

    I feel your frustration Paul, we have a yard waste container along with waste and recycling, a lot of my shavings go there, I am also beginning to use some in my compost pile and integrating them into my permaculture beds to enhance my garden, as I will be trying to repurpose this natural organic matter to make more, my wife loves the western red cedar curls smell and when we maybe get some laying hens bedding for them! have you thought of putting them up for gardeners to collect for there compost?

  35. Same problem in Brussels. Not clear where to throw this shavings, even payed. It’s only prohibited to throw them in all bags we have.

    Woodworking in a city is challenging, noise, waste.

  36. Heike Childs

    Paul: Thank you for sharing your frustrations on the recycling of wood and sorting out debris. In my shop I’ve found it worthwhile to have several different containers. One for recyclable plastic products, another for wood cut offs, a third for wood shavings (they will be heaped underneath the plants in the yard where I don’t wish to pull weeds). Next, for general non recyclable debris such as latex gloves, floor- and wood dust, chemical- and other metal containers, etc. there will be another bin. In order for garbage removal and recycling to work it’s important to separate debris neatly according to your local rules. Follow your local regulations for separation and everybody (including yourself) will be much happier. Sometimes local botanical gardens will accept biodegradable / organic materials. In our community they compost these materials throughout the year and sell them in spring as “mulch”. Again doing a good job of finding out what you might be able to offload to somebody else (besides waste disposal) and separating debris accordingly is very important. Note that in most communities neither ply-wood nor particle boards are not recyclable due to their chemical contents (glue, anti fungicides, etc.) which are part of the product. I’ve found in my community, that when asked, the people in charge of waste removal will do their best to offer their guidance in easy to understand language. No doubt, that because you produce more projects, your recycling and waste removal needs will be vastly different from the average person, so I wish you the best of luck and success in finding adequate solutions.

  37. Joseph R. Janutka

    I would just say that as humans, we have the power to preserve our planet or destroy it. So far we seem to be doing a pretty good job of destroying it. We ought to think of the bigger picture and in all cases try to do what’s best for planet Earth instead of or along with doing what’s most convenient for us. Mother Earth needs our help.

    1. CAPT Gary Andres USN ret

      Well said Mr Janutka. I just had a similar discussion with my Dad, brother and sister…on recycling…as I was dismayed that some of them didn’t see the value in it! We were together ending a long hospice stay for my mother…and after some discussion….. we went with cremation. We’re Catholic, and I’m retired military AND a retired federal game warden and wildlife manager….I’ve always considered recycling important …and in the end (literally) why do we feel the need to not only take up land space, but to be buried in a cement vault, and a long lasting casket? And why in the hell is anything sold these days, ANY packaging or item, that can’t be recycled? Ive taken our recyclers to task before…..and the sad fact is, many of you would be surprised—sadly so—how much crap that well-intentioned people put into their bins, isn’t recyclable; after a certain percentage of unrecyclable matter is found in any given amount — the whole batch, recyclable or not, ends up in a land fill. Good God, thank you for quality bourbon!

  38. Stephen Bamford

    So many great comments. And your efforts are truly dedicated to the sustainability of wood in its pure form. Let’s hope your ‘waste’ removal company sees the light of day and begins recycling and composting in earnest. And please let’s try having stuff in packages that can be recycled without jeopardizing the future of the generations of folk yet to come.

  39. Same problem in Western USA. If they see any wood then they classify the waste as construction waste and charge you the business rate. It’s ridiculous, especially considering how much I already pay them every month – $65 (for water and waste).

  40. R. John Davis

    Check with your local Animal Control/Vet/Animal Shelter. Some will gladly take Shavings, not dust.
    Paul, I understand certain woods should not be used for composting. I have heard that walnut may be toxic and should not be used on flower/garden beds or around shrubs. Is this correct? Are there others? Tropical wood?
    John D

  41. Like some of the others mentioned, here in the middle of the U.S., non-construction wood products, wood shavings, wood scraps, can be composted like yard waste, in the city compost container. We have separate containers each for compost, landfill and recycle. Construction products such as plywood go into the landfill bin.

    Most of the waste wood that I can run through my planer I do so, then use it as mulch bedding underlayment. It stays on way better in heavy water conditions, and does a much better job than anything else at holding the larger mulch pieces in place. Douglas Fir planer wood chips kill or limit growth for just about any weeds in my part of the country. Cheap and awesome.

  42. I just have to say these comments are the most British sounding (in my head as I read them) as any I’ve read yet. I know Paul is English and in the UK, but a few of these comments were a bit much for my feeble Texan brain! It was almost like trying to read Trainspotting the first time, minus all the flamboyant swearing. (And I know Trainspotting is Scottish)
    However, more on-topic, I have been trying to collect my shavings in bags to give to friends who keep chickens and who have gardens. And I usually have more than enough in the winter months to keep for myself to use as fire starter material for the fireplace. It always amazes me just how much shavings I amass in just one project.


    The modern landfill doesn’t allow for rapid decomp, newspapers 30 years old can still be read and food items that old are readily identified. We’re having the problem of a lack of want of recyclables so they are put into a landfill. The methane developed by a landfill has to be vented off or burned off,try to burn it off to make electricity, the wack jobs right that tooth and nail.
    I don’t understand disposing of lawn clippings, they help put back the nutrients they took out of the lawn. People who pay for fertilizer then throw out the clippings are, IMHO, dumb, they pay to toss it. We mulch leaves from our neighbors, grind them up and spread them on the lawn and garden, they add the organic matter our lawns and gardens need for free.
    We use sawdust and shavings for mulch, does what the leaves do, just takes a little longer. The larger pieces are used in our smoker, great ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork, seafood, and meatloaf come out of it.

  44. I have a small concrete rocket stove I made for Florida hurricane power outages. It’s very efficient and burns anything. Small pieces are much easier and more efficient to use. It loves wood shavings just like the stuff in the pic at the bottom of your trash can. The stove is indestructible and lives outside. I keep two weather sealed bins of fuel outback. It’s better than my neighbors’ high tech rigs.

  45. I visited a woodturner in the far north of Japan recently. He had a simple hand-operated press that turned dust and shavings into pellets, about the size of a beer can, that fed an unbelievably effective workshop stove.

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