Storm debris turned into useable timber at the Romsey green waste site
Published on 09 June 2022
Mick O’Dwyer manages the green waste facility in Romsey, a place that needs to be seen to be believed. The sheer size and precise organisation of the operation is astonishing.
Storm debris from across Victoria, including from Moorabool Shire, is taken by truck to the Romsey site and turned into firewood, usable timber, mulch, fish habitat — you name it. Not a single twig is wasted.
“Everything from the tip of the tree, right down to the roots, even the sawdust we create in the process, is repurposed,” said Mick.
Mick is a Senior Arborist at Macedon Ranges Council, but since the June 2021 storm has been leading all operations at the facility.
“The whole project starts out on the roads, or on private property. There were thousands of properties impacted by storms, and thousands of roadsides. Crews out on the roads working for Councils, BRV, VicRoads, DEWLP and Parks Victoria all bring stuff to this site.”
Mick and his crew of 15 have their process down to a fine art – every single piece of wood is sorted and organised in huge mounds.
“Trucks come in, and their load gets weighed and allocated to either the road, the property, the park wherever it was picked up — so that we know exactly where it’s come from,” said Mick.
The material then gets tipped off the truck and sorted into giant piles depending on what it will be used for. The quality of the wood helps decide this – sometimes the trucks drop off foliage that’s only good for mulch, so it’s sent to be tub ground.
“Logs get separated into either a firewood log, or a log that can be milled and used for projects. For example these longer ones are currently being sent off to Werribee Zoo for an elephant enclosure that they’re building. One Council is building a playground with this timber over here too,” said Mick.
“Anything that’s not a firewood log, or a millable log, or something that we can tub grind, gets put into a separate section – so that’s your root balls, hollow logs – things that have habitat value. We’ve been sending those to the water authorities so a lot of it’s gone into the Barwon River or to a fish housing site elsewhere as fish habitat. We’ve shipped some of these as far as Mildura.”
Because they’re cutting square products out of round logs, there are always offcuts. These offcuts aren’t wasted either — they’re taken over to the drop saw and turned into kindling.
The sawdust that’s created when milling logs is bagged up as well. So far it's been sent to dairy farmers and pig farmers to be used in their stables.
Even the pallets used for storing materials within the site are made from repurposed trees – all of it a result of the June 2021 storm.
The creativity of Mick and his crew in ensuring not a single leaf is wasted is both astonishing and a wonderful tribute to the acres of land destroyed by the storm.
“Many of the guys who work here are local and were impacted by the storm, so they know what the community needs,” said Mick.