“Reduce, reuse and recycle” are the three Rs of the environmental movement. Can that concept stretch far enough to include used horse bedding? Shelly Townsend, of Paris, Kentucky, says it can. A lifelong rider, Shelly has invented and patented a process that reclaims used shavings so they can be used again. Her company, Equine Eco Green, hopes to offer the service at a facility in Wellington, Florida, this year.
Areas like Wellington, where a large number of horses are concentrated on limited, environmentally sensitive land, are eager for better ways of dealing with stall waste. Shelly estimates that a typical stalled horse will run through more than 200 bags of pine shavings a year. “Not only is there a disposal problem, but shavings have become less available due to the decline in housing construction,” she says. Here’s how her process works:
Used bedding is first run through a shaker to remove most of the manure. (Minus the shavings, the manure can be composted quickly and easily.)
The separated shavings are washed in water and detergent and rinsed in clear water.
Chlorine bleach is added to kill pathogens and restore the shavings to their original color. Then a neutralizer (a sulfur-based dechlorinating agent) eliminates any trace of the chlorine.
The bedding is dried in an oven or a rotary drum dryer, under heat that kills any lingering pathogens.
The cleaned shavings?odor-free, with basically the same texture, color and appearance as fresh shavings?can be bagged for reuse or turned into other products, such as pellet fuel and manufactured fire logs.
“It’s a totally green process,” Shelly says. Water from the various steps can be treated to reduce contamination and recycled in a closed-loop system to minimize consumption. The process is new, but it makes use of dryers, shakers and other pieces of equipment that already exist. As an added benefit, the cleaning also neutralizes phenols, the chemicals that produce the piney scent of shavings but,
Shelly notes, are respiratory irritants and can even be toxic to small animals.
As of this writing, Equine Eco Green was seeking a site in Wellington. ?Officials in Ocala, Florida, and companies in other parts of the United States and in Europe have also expressed ?interest, Shelly says.
This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.