WP Chipper Hire & Sales, which trades as Africa Biomass Company (ABC), is rapidly evolving into a leading national service provider for converting waste wood into useable end products, including decorative wood chips, mulch, boiler fuel, biochar, wood pellets, charcoal and packaging materials.
When WP Chipper Hire & Sales was established in Worcester in 2008 it was the logical next step for Willem van der Merwe. “Four years earlier I bought a small tree felling business and it included a tow-behind wood chipper. The calls from fruit farmers in the Ceres area for assistance with recycling prunings and old orchards into wood chips and mulch grew exponentially and it soon became time to grow our equipment and expand our services” explains Van der Merwe.
WP Chipper Hire and Sales joined forces with Môreson Grondverskuiwers and ventured into the important new territory of “green” agricultural practices. Since 2008 they have acquired a fleet of the world’s best recycling equipment for the processing of various kinds of green waste.
Fruit trees, vineyards, unwanted windbreaks, municipal green waste, and sawmill waste are increasingly converted into mulch for ground cover, compost, or useful boiler fuel, used instead of carbon fuels. The company recently started harvesting and processing alien trees from the water catchment areas of the Western Cape.
The fleet of recycling equipment has increased to:
- 20 Bell 225 loggers
- 8 Bandit Beast horizontal grinders
- 1 boiler fuel chipper
- 1 whole tree chipper
- various tractors and trailers
- chip spreaders (own design)
- forestry mower
- other logging equipment
“We would not be able to run fully mechanised operations if it was not for the versatile, heavy duty and reliable Bell three-wheeled logging machines. The back up from Bell Equipment is excellent and this has helped us grow our own technical expertise and skills,” Van der Merwe points out.
The current monthly material produced for composting, biofuel and mulch exceed 50 000-cubic metres in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with 100% local consumption of the product. “WP Chipper Hire & Sales has been in the forefront of the development of biomass processing and biofuels in Africa. For this reason, in 2014 we established Africa Biomass Company (ABC) because clients from other provinces began to contract our services,” explains Van der Merwe.
A brief encounter with Van der Merwe and a visit to the company confirms that all the employees practice the company’s philosophy of looking after their suppliers, colleagues, and customers. “Without these three elements, it is not possible to be a successful business. Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and my viewpoint is that people who work for me must be better off, if and when they leave. By looking after our resources and the well-being of people the industry – and the business – will survive.
ABC’s vision is to provide a worldwide service and infrastructure that is sustainable and above par and considers the unique requirements of each client without deviating from its policy of innovative service and high ethical standards. “What began as an effort to reduce waste timber volumes to cut down on trips to dumping sites, resulted in the birth of a new industry based on converting waste wood into reusable and renewable value adding products.”
Originally Published: Wood & Timber Times South Africa – February 2017 | Vol. 42 | No. 4