Housing Slowdown Leads To Sawdust Shortage: Are Pellet Stoves and Cellulosic Ethanol Unsustainable Delusions?


Wall Street Journal documents sawdust price shock for us. Who knew there were so many North American supply chains depending on a byproduct of the US housing boom?

The price of sawdust has soared since 2006, up from about $25 a ton to more than $100 in some markets. Blame the housing slump: Fewer new homes mean fewer trees cut for use in construction, which leads to less sawdust and other wood waste, driving up the price.
Threatened by the higher costs are such saw dust uses as horse bedding, bedding for pets of all kinds, wine making, chicken producing, composting toilets, oil drilling, dairying, and uh ohhhh...
The sawdust shortage has also made life hard for Mr. Johnson of Montana. His company's trendiest business is compressed sawdust pellets, a popular fuel used in special stoves that produce lots of heat but little ash. The pellets, made of blended bits of cedar, lodgepole pine and Douglas fir, require dry fiber, without impurities. Tree bark won't do, only sawdust.

Apparently things are so bad in the sawdust market that recycled Christmas trees are being "dusted" and scavengers are returning to the forest to grind up piles of logging slash. You can guess the rest.

Point of reference: can you image what will happen to the wood refuse market in general should cellulosic ethanol production be commercially successful and scaled. Paper and furniture making will have to compete for raw materials. No return to Mega-Mansion development will be able to avert those collisions. They'll be mining landfills for landscaping trash.

We checked the retail price for premium wood pellets ; on the US East Coast, dfor 1 - 10 tons, it was $219/ton, plus shipping.

See also: Let's Talk About Pellet Stoves AND BioFuel Popularity Expanding - Will Ceetoh Prospects Be Compromised, Forests Be Clearcut? AND Who's Got The Ceetoh Moves? - Part 1

Via::WSJ, "Sawdust Shock: A Shortage Looms As Economy Slows." Image credit::Stonyfield, The Bovine Bugle, "A welcome sight after a winter using expensive bagged sawdust"