Enviro program turns Pierce County's broken sign posts into cedar bark

A new recycling program is transforming broken sign posts into cedar bark for use in Pierce County parks.

The Traffic Operations division of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities came up with the idea during a routine crew meeting after several attempts to find a sustainable solution for the bottom part of the posts, which are usually less than 4 feet in length. The top of the post is recycled to high school wood shop programs, but the bottom is too damaged for student use.

After contacting Erin Benedict from Parks and Recreation to see if they could collaborate, both departments agreed to put the plan into action. Benedict and Parks and Recreation employee Justin Rowland used a chipper to turn a pile of stubs into 10 yards of quality cedar bark and fill two dump trucks.

“By partnering with the Parks department, we are now recycling 100 percent of the broken or replaced cedar sign posts,” said Rick Butner, Pierce County Public Works Traffic Operations supervisor. “This is a good long-term solution for the Traffic Operations recycling program.”

Benedict said grinding the cedar posts will save the cost of purchasing bark. The new program fits in with Pierce County’s Sustainability Plan, which encourages recycling and creating partnerships to maximize resources.