Evaluation of methods for sorting CCA-treated wood

Gary Jacobi, Helena Solo-Gabriele, Timothy Townsend, Brajesh Dubey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Construction and demolition (C&D) wood frequently contains treated wood including wood treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Many recycling options for such wood require that the product be essentially free of preservative chemicals. The objectives of this study were to document the characteristics of the wood waste stream and to evaluate the effectiveness of sorting methods for identifying treated wood. Sorting methods evaluated included visual sorting and visual sorting augmented with the use of PAN indicator stain and/or hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) units. Experiments were conducted on two types of construction and demolition (C&D) wood: source separated loads containing only C&D wood and wood hand-picked from commingled loads of general C&D waste. Results showed that 77% of the treated wood was CCA-treated. For uncontaminated piles (<1% treated wood) of source separated C&D wood, visual sorting was found to effectively remove the small amounts of treated wood present. For piles of source separated wood that were contaminated (∼50% treated wood), visual sorts were not accurate and benefited from augmented sorting using PAN indicator stain. The handheld XRF devices were found to be effective for sorting commingled C&D wood, as PAN indicator stain was not as effective due to the excessive amount of surface dirt associated with commingled wood waste. Visual sorting of source separated wood was estimated to cost between US$21 to US$96 per metric ton. These costs depended upon the amount of treated wood and whether or not augmentation with PAN indicator was necessary. Visual sorting augmented with hand-held XRF units was estimated at US$113 per metric ton. The bulk of these costs were associated with labor. Future efforts should focus on reducing labor costs by mounting automated XRF units on conveyor systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1625
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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