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Wood Waste Reduction

Students walking amongst green leafy trees.

Summary: Sam Adams requested the Green Fee to fund a purchase a 16″ capacity brush chipper, for the purpose of doubling the amount of wood and brush that can be chipped and used on campus wide composting projects, reducing wood waste going to the landfill by approximately 60%.

Who: Sam Adams, the UT Arborist submitted the proposal, with support from Jason Cotrell, the Assistant Director for Facilities Operations

Background: For every ton of wood chips generated, there is approximately an additional 700 pounds of bulk wood waste that cannot be chipped due to the limited size capacity of their current chipper; therefore approximately 26% of our tree debris must be disposed of in some other way – usually landfill.

On average, Sam Adams estimate’s that UT generates 16,200 pounds of tree debris each week. Of that 16,200 pounds approximately 4,000 pounds of bulk wood waste must be disposed of in a form other than wood chips. They estimate that a larger capacity chipper would increase the amount of bulk wood waste converted to chips by at least 60% and potentially up to 90% (2400 – 3600 pounds).

Below, a graph showing the impact the new chipper will have on tree waste on campus.

Before the Woodchipper

Pie chart showing far more landfill waste than prior to use of the woodchipper

After the Woodchipper

Pie chart showing far less landfill waste than prior to use of the woodchipper


Orange= landfill, green= compost


Why is this Needed?: The Landscape Services Arboriculture Team prunes and removes trees on a daily basis. On average the crew generates 30 cubic yards (6 tons) of wood chips per week. 90% of the work involves handling brush and wood up to 16″ diameter.

The chipper they currently use will chip up to an 8 inch diameter branch. Any wood larger than 8 inches usually ends up in the landfill. By increasing their chipping capacity they can dramatically reduce the amount of wood waste that goes to the landfill.

Project Funding: 

BC1500 Chipper with a Clean Idle 130 horse power diesel engine $72,480.00
Current chipper trade-in value $6,000.00
Total Request $66,408.00

Green Fee Notes: The committee altered the proposal vote to fully fund the purchase of the $72,480 16” chipper, allowing Facilities Services to keep the 8” chipper as backup or to use during severe storm events when debris cleanup is the highest priority.