Pro-Tainer

Equipment Spotlight

Waste compactors

American Recycling Systems
Bakers Waste Equipment
C+M Baling Systems, Inc.
Harmony Enterprises
J.M. Hydraulics, Inc.
Marathon Equipment
Nedland Industries, Inc.
Precision Machinery Systems
Quality Bilt Equipment, LLC
S & G Enterprises, Inc.
Sani-Tech Systems, Inc.
WestCare Corporation

When material streams consist of more air than valuable recyclables, recyclers turn to compactors to squeeze out the empty spaces. The result is lower cost of transportation as well as improved productivity and higher profits.

Compactors and balers sometimes utilize a similar compression mechanism. However, balers compress recyclables into bricks or bales, which are then restrained with wire, ribbon or other ties. Compactors produce materials that cling together by themselves, are loaded into containers or, sometimes, wrapped in plastic or inserted into bags. Both techniques reduce the volume of recyclables, making them easier and cheaper to handle.

In Valdese, North Carolina, Bakers Waste Equipment manufactures a wide range of compactors used in recycling applications. Its stationary compactors include the S-200, a 2 cubic yard compactor that uses a hydraulic ram to compact materials with 63,900 lbs. of pressure. Bakers also manufactures similar three, four and five cubic yard stationary compactors. Bakers’ B-35SC self-contained unit couples a 2 cubic yard compactor with a 35 cubic yard container on a 22 ft. skid.

J.M. Hydraulics, Inc.

Chris Burns, director of sales marketing for Bakers, said, “We sell them a lot to government accounts, such as counties and municipalities, to go in recycle centers or convenience centers. In rural areas they allow residents to come to a centralized location where they’ll have containers to collect waste and recyclables. They use our stationary and self-contained compactors to compact bulk residential recyclables.

“Mostly what we see people using them for are paper and cardboard,” Burns said. “They can be putting plastics in there as well.” A typical configuration has a two to three cubic yard compactor feeding a 40 ft. trailer that is used to transport the recyclables for further processing.

Challenges of the applications include setting up the equipment to achieve adequate packing pressures, especially with cardboard. “Cardboard is probably one of the more difficult recyclable products that we have to accommodate,” Burns said. “We sometimes have to build large feed hoppers and larger units to accommodate those, especially if they’re not breaking them down prior to going in.” Currently, Baker is designing a number of new compactor products for more specific applications, including restaurants and multi-family residential complexes.

Marathon Equipment

WasteCare Corporation of Gainesville, Georgia, manufactures a wide range of compactors used for materials including paper and plastic. Those popular for recycling applications include two models of continuous feed compactors that deposit compressed materials into bins. The Model CB-2900 bin compactors, for instance, hold roughly one yard of loose trash and about six yards of compacted trash. The electrically-powered compactor exerts a maximum of 600 lbs. of downward pressure. WasteCare’s portable PortaPack compactors are to be used with existing drums, boxes and trash bins. Up to 8-to-1 compression ratios can be achieved with downward pressure of up to 6,000 lbs. of force with these models.

Matt Kennedy, WasteCare’s sales manager, said business remains good. “People are a little slower to make decisions, but the level of inquiries hasn’t dropped. People are asking me more questions before they buy and are taking longer. But overall the activity is still there. It hasn’t dropped off too much.”

According to Kennedy, some of the most common requests today are renting to own or utilizing WasteCare’s internal financing. Popular niche products include bulb crushers used to reduce emissions from old fluorescent bulbs, save space and improve productivity of recycling personnel.

Precision Machinery Systems Inc. of York, Pennsylvania, makes a specialty compactor used in industrial settings for recycling expanded polystyrene packing material. The company was founded 15 years ago when major oil companies began a recycling effort in response to a push to reduce the use of polystyrenes, said president Barry Bosies. The early recycling efforts had difficulty meeting financial goals, however, and compaction was the solution.

“If you had to ship undensified polystyrenes, you could get maybe 1,000 lbs. to 1,500 lbs. in a truck,” Bosies said. “We came up with a piece of equipment that allows you to get 40,000 lbs. in a tractor trailer. The whole equation became a lot friendlier.”

Challenges with compressing polystyrene include obtaining adequate densification and dealing with the material’s propensity to jam. “You need fairly significant pressure in order to get the air out of the cells,” Bosies said. “Our machine produces about 425 lbs. of pressure per square inch of ram face.” Precision Machinery employs a hydraulically-powered ram that presses material against either a fixed face, or an opening that emits a thin ribbon. Their eight models can process from 25 lbs. per hour to 600 lbs. per hour.

Although the first models were originally intended for expanded polystyrene, other uses today include compacting plastic milk containers, sawdust and aluminum cans. Business was active when prices for oil, the feedstock for polystyrene, were high, but demand has tapered off since oil prices declined, Bosies said.