Like Rumpelstiltskin spun straw to gold, balers turn scrap into valued commodities. Balers reduce shipping costs by densifying materials, improving the efficiency of each haul. Because of this, for many businesses (including manufacturers, distributors and retail stores), investing in baling equipment for recyclables can lead to significant economic benefits.
Here are some factors for manufacturers, distributors and retail stores to consider when investing in baling equipment.
While balers can range in purchase price from slightly more than $1,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, businesses that produce large amounts of traditional recyclables shouldn’t let the price tag scare them away from investing in this equipment. If the company isn’t ready for a large capital expenditure, many affordable rental options are available.
The main thing to consider is what the business’ return on investment will look like. While it is highly likely that, over time, the money saved in shipping costs and earned in additional recycling rebates will offset the cost of the baler, the question to consider is what this timeline will look like. This will depend on the type and volume of recyclables to be baled, as well as the type and size of baler the company chooses to use.
Even the smallest balers typically are taller than 4 feet and wider than 3 ½ feet. Before adding one to a facility, it helps to know exactly what real estate is available. Not only will the business need space to accommodate the baler, the following points also should be considered:
Balers are available in a variety of sizes and types, which can be broken down into two main categories: vertical/downstroke balers and horizontal balers.
While we at Northstar Recycling typically find vertical balers to be more effective in manufacturing, distribution and retail spaces, both types offer pros and cons.
Vertical balers typically are smaller than horizontal balers and tend to be less expensive. Vertical balers come in many different sizes and generally are named by how wide their bales will be. For instance, a 73-inch baler will produce a 73-inch wide bale; a 45-inch baler will produce a 45-inch wide bale and so on. It is important for businesses to note that smaller bales may be less cost-effective than larger bales. For instance, many recyclers will offer lower rebates for bales less than 60 inches wide. Some may even grade smaller bales as loose material, or they may be stricter about ensuring clients exceed minimum weights with their bales. However, vertical balers 60 inches and higher can be used to ensure full rebates.
“Balers are powerful pieces of equipment that use tons of pressure behind a powered ram to compress objects. As such, they can be dangerous and even life-threatening when in poor repair or when operated incorrectly.”
Horizontal balers are usually larger, more expensive pieces of equipment. They are typically best for companies that produce more than 100 tons of recyclables per month. However, they also can be useful in instances where the user has plenty of operating space and values time saved from automation. Horizontal balers offer more options for automation and also have larger mouths to accommodate larger materials. These factors may reduce time required for loading and operating these machines.
Ultimately, the best type of baler is the one that fits a company’s needs and space requirements. If a business plans to bale multiple types of recyclables, it may even want to consider getting multiple balers: one for each major recycling stream.
Balers are powerful pieces of equipment that use tons of pressure behind a powered ram to compress objects. As such, they can be dangerous and even life-threatening when in poor repair or when operated incorrectly. Because improper use of a baler can be hazardous to employees’ health as well as inefficient for the recycling program, businesses with balers on-site should overemphasize the importance of training prior to baler operation.
Make sure employees know safety is the No. 1 priority and that extenuating operating and safety requirements are associated with this piece of equipment. An effective way to communicate this to staff is by posting signs and training reminders in visible areas surrounding the baler operation area. This should be done concurrently with other training procedures.
Taining topics pertaining to baler operation should include:
The best way to ensure that a company is properly using its baler(s) is by checking the bale weights. While bale weights will vary depending on the type and size of the baler and the materials being baled, most baler distributors and manufacturers should be able to provide spec sheets that list tables of target bale weights. For instance, a 60-inch vertical baler being used to bale cardboard should produce bales between 800-1,000 pounds (with 800 being the minimum and 1,000 being the ideal weight).
If a business finds it is producing underweight bales, some areas for it to troubleshoot include:
Ideally, a manufacturer, distributor or retailer purchased or rented its baler to improve its recycling program’s efficiency, so it’s important to continually check that this equipment is performing to the company’s expectations.
In many instances, baling can be the difference between waste and recycling. Even low-quality recyclables improve in value from being baled. With these factors in mind, it might be time to re-evaluate a company’s recycling program to look for opportunities for improvement.