How To Calculate the Weight of Your Recyclable Commodities

By Maggie Caldwell | January 16, 2015

Is there any value in the waste your business generates? Chances are good the answer is a definite YES. In previous blog posts, we've discussed why diverting as much weight away from your solid waste stream and into your single-stream recycling saves money on trash hauling bills. Simply put, commercial single-stream is cheaper to dispose of than solid waste because there are no tipping fees. For every ton of waste you move from the trash to the recycling stream, you save an average of $45. Take a look at your company's waste bill. How many tons do you pay to have hauled each month? You could be literally throwing money away. 

Your waste partner makes money by sorting your recyclable commodities into grades and selling them to manufacturers. But if you generate enough of any recyclable commoditity, it's cost-effective to invest in the equipment to grade and weigh them yourself. The rebate you negotiate from your waste partner is added revenue for your company. You may be surprised what you can recycle: even foam packing and shrink wrap have value in today's market. 

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Choosing a Baler

By Maggie Caldwell | August 5, 2014

Any type of company - manufacturers, distributors, printers, retailers, or some other type of business - that generates a minimim of 10 tons (20,000 pounds) recyclable commodities each month should invest in a baler. Choosing the right baler for your volume allows you to streamline your recycling program and maximize the revenue you receive from your recyclable materials by:

  • forming solid blocks of individual commodity: old corrugated cardboard (OCC), plastics bottles, plastic film and shrink wrap, etc.
  • doubling commodity value when you process it yourself
  • allowing you to get rid of excess gaylords, saving floor space
  • maximizing weight of your recyclables so you don't pay to haul air

Balers are a tool in your recycling program, and like any tool it's important to choose the right one for the job. Don't waste money on a baler that does more than you need; for many businesses the simplest choice is the best one. On the other hand, larger volume generators will find that the right investment in equipment helps trim labor costs involved in recycling.

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The Most Cost-Effective Way to Recycle OCC (old corrugated cardboard)

By Maggie Caldwell | July 28, 2014

The first step in determining the most cost-effective way to handle the recycling of your old corrugated cardboard is to know the total monthly weight of OCC you're generating. The only reliable way to know that figure is to weigh and track your material yourself. If you don't already bale and weigh your own OCC, a simple self-audit will give you the information you need. 

How to calculate the weight of OCC you generate monthly:

  1. Count your gaylords:

    15 - 20 boxes loose OCC = 1 bale = about 1,000 pounds 
  2. Count your compactor hauls:

    If you load your OCC into compactors, examine your monthly hauling bill. How many full compactors do you have hauled away each month? Each 42-yard compactor = 4 tons OCC
  3. Count your semi trailers:

    1 semi full of baled OCC weighs 20 tons. How many semis do you fill each month? 

Now that you know approximately how many tons of OCC you generate, determine the most cost-effecive method of recycling it:

  • Under 10 tons per month:

    You get the most value by utlizing a compactor; compactors maximize weight. A typical haul charge is $170, so make sure each compactor is completely full before hauling. You should be able to negotiate to earn back between $10 and $15 per ton. 
  • 10 tons per month:

    This is the threshold at which it is cost-effective to invest in a downstroke baler. The value of 10 tons baled material in today's market is about $1,000 and the monthly lease price on a new 13K downstroke baler is about $300. After labor and hauling costs, you are left with minimal profit. 
  • Over 10 tons to 25 tons per month:

    bale your OCC with a downstroke baler and load onto a semi truck for hauling. Take care to make sure you maximize the weight on your trailers to minimize hauling costs. 
  • 20 tons per month:

    This is the threshold at which it becomes cost-effective to invest in a horizontal baler. The value of 20 tons baled material in today's market is about $25,000 and the monthly lease price on a small horizontal baler is about $1,500. After labor costs and hauling (20 tons is one semi trailer load) you are profitable.
  • 25 tons or more per month:

    25 tons or more per month is the point where you must invest in a horizontal baler. Labor costs involved in operating the smaller downstroke baler at this level are too high to make sense. 


Don't forget about your baling your LDPE (plastic film and shrink wrap). Large orders and shipment are most commonly received as cardboard boxes stacked on pallets and wrapped in plastic film or shrink wrap. It's always cost-effective to recycle LDPE; click here to find out how. 

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Advantages of Baling Your Cardboard (OCC)

By Maggie Caldwell | July 25, 2014

A downstroke, or vertical, baler can be a valuable tool in simplifying the recycling program at your manufacturing, distributing, printing, or retail facility. These machines compact old corrugated cardboard (OCC), plastic film and shrink wrap, and mixed office paper into the 60" x 36" cubes accepted by processing mills. Downstroke balers are always a cost-effective investment if you generate:

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