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August 2007

Equipment Spotlight

Municipal Recycling Containers

—View a list of manufacturers at the bottom of the page

Curbside recycling containers are being designed and made in an increasing variety of shapes, colors, sizes and materials, as manufacturers enjoy surging sales and an ever-widening array of applications for the humble bins. Containers for single-family homes and single-stream collection systems are being joined by bins designed for cans, bottles, papers and even electronics recyclables. Some manufacturers are even creating accessories such as wheeled carts for easily transporting several bins at a time, or wall-mount racks so homeowners can hang the bins in their garages.

At Rubbermaid Commercial Products LLC, in Winchester, Virginia, Joe DeZarn, marketing communications director, says “We have everything from small, desk-side recycling containers to larger, multi-stream sorting and collecting containers to high capacity transport containers and everything along the way. Curbside containers fit in that continuum as one product.”

The baseline requirements of curbside recycling containers have changed little, DeZarn says.

“In terms of what the purchasers want, they want them to hold up,” he says. “They want them to last through fairly rough treatment and a very wide range of temperatures, from Minnesota in the winter to Arizona in the summer.”

In Rubbermaid’s testing facility, a large temperature-controlled room allows designers to chill and heat products before giving them 10-foot drop tests. “Then we have abrasion testing that we do to ensure that these are the toughest products on the market,” says DeZarn. The products are designed for a five-year life and most exceed that, he says. “Usually either they’re stolen or somehow run over by a car or something. There is usually some kind of catastrophic incident, not failure in the normal course of activity.”

Rubbermaid’s future plans include adding recycled plastic to the plastic bins they manufacture, using a mixture of polypropylene and polyethylene injection-molded into shape. “That’s a current high priority initiative that we’re going through, sourcing and approving recycling resins to incorporate into products including the recycling box,” DeZarn says.

Rubbermaid uses colorants in its bins that include no toxic heavy metals, part of a response by the company to environmental concerns among its customers, who are distributors of its products, and their customers, who are often municipal recycling systems. “We do see the reflection of the increase in recycling throughout North America,” says DeZarn. “There’s a real increase in demand. It’s a hot-button issue for a lot of reasons. So things are heading in a good direction as far as this goes.”

At Busch Systems International, Inc., in Barrie, Ontario, Ted Boothe, senior account manager, says the company makes several sizes of curbside bins, from 14 gallons to 24 gallons. “The 24 gallon was specifically designed for rural areas where pickup is not as frequent,” he explains. “We find that’s the right size container for rural applications.”

Busch’s containers incorporate various special features. For instance, says Boothe, “Our 18-gallon container can both nest and stack with all our containers. That means it can cohabitate with other manufacturers containers without there being any mix-ups or foul-ups.” The company also addresses safety in its designs. “We don’t use an open handle concept so if you spin them and get your fingers caught it doesn’t become a danger to the person doing the service or the resident,” Boothe says.

Busch also manufactures a container called a Stack and Tie. “It allows people to put paper in it, tie it and take it to the curb and it’s already tied in a bundle,” Boothe says. “That’s been very successful as well.” Busch sells a variety of options. “We have wheel kit options, wall brackets to hang them in their garages, if people desire, and bungee cord applications if people don’t want to use a lid,” he says. “We also, of course, have lids.”

Busch uses recycled plastic in all its products, including curbside bins, according to Boothe. “We have people who source the right kind of recycled resins that we need,” he says. “It’s not a durability issue. We warranty our curbside containers for just as long or longer than everybody else in the marketplace.”

Curbside container demand is strong at Busch. “There seems to be a steady influx of people going to carts with the single stream application,” Boothe says. “Those are usually for older programs. But there are still lots of new programs being started, so business is good.”

At Roto Industries Inc. in Anaheim, California, Cory Coulter, Sales and Marketing, says two-wheeled haulers for bottles and cans are selling well in Southern California and other locations. “We also have a park cart designed for automated pickup,” he says. “We’ve been selling them to a lot of cities where they’ve been sitting on streets. They pick them up with an automated collection truck.”

Roto is using recycled content in an innovative way. “Some of the cities want recycled material in their content but we don’t really mix virgin resin with post-consumer resin,” Coulter says. Instead of using recycled plastic in its molding process, Roto fills the weighted bases of some of its stationary pedestal receptacles with post-consumer content, providing up to 30 percent recycled content for some products. “They really like that,” Coulter says.

The curbside recycling container business is strong at Roto as well, where the company gets calls from across the country requesting information on curbside containers. “Especially here in California, everybody’s trying to recycle everything,” Coulter says.


Busch Systems International, Inc.
Ted Boothe

Cascade Engineering, Inc.
Samia Brown

Louisiana Container Company, Inc.
Cecil Holden

OTTO Environmental Systems, LLC
Judy Grist

Rehrig Pacific Company
Michael Schwalbach

Roto Industries Inc.
Cory Coulter

Rotonics Manufacturing, Inc.
Mario Poma

Rubbermaid Commercial Products
Joe DeZarn

T.M. Fitzgerald & Associates
Debbie Bergen