We have recently finished up our factory visits and have moved into the documentation and diagramming phases. In total, we visited 14 wood related sites, ranging from mulch production to a paper mill to a large scale furniture manufacturing plant. At the factory visits, we tried to collect information that shows the industrial processes taking place. We collected material samples, photos, videos, and (everyone’s favorite) monsters. We have defined “monsters” as the waste that is produced during a particular industrial process. This is waste that is considered to be of no value and sent to landfill. In other words, monsters are what end up in the factory’s waste bin. For example, in the production of paper from recovered fibers (i.e. post consumer paper), a monster called a “ragger tail” is made. Recycled paper is bought in bales weighing 1000+ pounds and bundled with metal wire. Also, sheets of plastic and staples find their way into these bales. In the pulping processing, the wire, plastics and other material that needs to be removed from the pulp in order to make a pure fiber pulp is circulated together until it becomes a paper-y, wire-y tail-like piece of refuse. The ragger tail (also called a “pulper tail) is such a mess that no one buys it, even though metal and plastics are often resold and reused.
One reason we are attracted to these monsters is because of their visually compelling nature. However, they are also very revealing of the industrial process. At RockTenn/Lafarge paperboard company, the ragger tail is one of the only waste products they produce. Paper production is a very efficient process. Any paper waste that is produced is put back into the pulper and re-enters the production stream. The one waste product RockTenn produces is not even a paper product.
Other monsters currently hiding in our closet: