Eight counties | 36 cities | one region

a voluntary council of local governments
serving the missouri meramec area.

MRPC board learns of growing problem with wood waste

For immediate release

For more information, contact
Bonnie Prigge at (573) 265-2993

ST. JAMES—Wood waste — sawdust, chips, bark, etc. — is quickly becoming an issue for many areas that have a thriving lumber industry. The ability for Missouri’s lumber mills to stay in business is dependent on feasible markets for their “residuals,” those items that are not used in the production of lumber. The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) heard about the significance of this problem in the Meramec Region and Southern Missouri from Angela Rolufs, a contractor with Missouri S&T, and Pete Karnowski of Burns and McDonald at their board meeting Nov. 9 in St. James.

Each board foot of lumber creates approximately two pounds of residuals. With the paper production that utilizes hardwood residuals diminishing in the United States, lumber companies are struggling to find new sources for their residuals. According to Rolufs and Karnowski, an average lumber mill can produce approximately 1,377 to 1,881 tons of wood waste per day and approximately 490,331 to 686,463 tons per year. This kind of accumulation could cover the operational area of a sawmill in a year.

Dent County is strongly impacted as the highest producer of lumber in the state of Missouri with Crawford and Washington following closely behind for the Meramec Region. According to Rolufs and Karnowski, Dent County produces more than 50 million board feet per year, Crawford between 25 and 49.9 million per year and Washington between 10 and 24.9 million per year. This makes for quite an accumulation of wood waste in the Meramec Region.

So, what does this mean for the region? With wood waste quantities now documented, Rolufs and Karnowski are now exploring the possibility that wood waste could be turned into a renewable source of energy by converting wood waste into a renewable natural gas. Their idea would be establishing a Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) plant in southeast Missouri to begin production of RNG by harnessing the wood waste being produced in the region. They will be conducting meetings in December to discuss ways to use the wood waste solutions for Missouri energy needs at various locations across the state.

The wood waste study was commissioned by the Missouri Forest Products Association using a Value-Added grant from the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the financials as of October 31, 2017;
  • Heard a report on the Meramec Regional Community Foundation (MRCF), which has two new board members — Barb Schaller from Maries County and Bobbi Limberg from Gasconade County. Executive Director Bonnie Prigge also reported that Belle High School just received an estate donation from the Leffler family of $219,000 for scholarships; and
  • Was reminded that the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) will meet at 3:30 on Dec. 14 and will be voting on transportation priorities for 2018.

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 23, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.