Mark Smith looks at issues facing the industry and the factors determining the right baling equipment.

Making the environment a better place, with less waste to landfill, brings opportunities for innovative companies to process more ‘resource’ and grow. But the industry, including recycling equipment manufacturers, has its work cut out to keep up with the pace of change and Government targets. It also has to manage issues such as quality, especially in the areas of waste for export, and the growing cost of transportation and storage.

Added to this is a dawning realisation that waste is a resource with real value, whether it is used as waste to energy or for the recovery of important raw materials. British manufacturers, for example, are already seeing damaging shortages of raw materials on world markets and are lobbying for clearer Government initiatives on the recovery of scarce resources.

As experiences and procedures mature, the waste and recycling industry is starting to tackle more difficult materials. We are seeing the growth of new waste streams such as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and hard plastics. This is set to become an enormous area fuelled by the rising tide of consumer electronics around the world – more than doubling by 2025.

Dealing with these materials requires new flexibility in terms of the plant machinery used. Baling equipment in particular requires the ability to cope with the widest possible waste streams, including hard plastics and printed circuits. Many older machines are not able to achieve the compression required to produce suitable bales without costly pre-processing or shredding. And the industry is moving to bale more commercial and industrial waste, which requires more robust machinery.

Few balers are created equal, so taking the time to assess your requirements is important to ensure operational efficiency for your MRF installation. Density of products to be baled and the tonnage to be processed will dictate the type and size of baler or balers that you need.

Speed of processing is also important, especially if there is limited storage capacity for incoming waste. If your baling equipment cannot keep up, you will quickly find the operation backing up.

Operational constraints also need to be considered. Power limitations and space requirements should be checked, and you may even have time restrictions for running equipment to minimise nuisance to neighbouring communities. Above all, a proper test to trial your materials is crucially important.

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