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Consideration of Balers / Recycling Equipment for PET


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Recycling Plastic PET-Type 1 Plastics

Every single day we use items that are made from plastic such as soda and water bottles. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these plastics are found in garbage cans, trash bins and waste dumpsters all over the United States each day when they could be sent to a recycling center to be reused. Businesses are accelerating their focus on recycling programs so that when their employees, customers and other visitors have soda and water bottles that need to be disposed they are being recycled instead of ending up in the landfill.  

The most recent statistics found for the recycling of type 1 plastic is for the year 2004. According to the American Plastics Council (APC) only 22 percent of type 1 plastic was recycled. The APC also states that only 25 percent of the nations recycling capacity is being used, which leaves room for a lot more to be recycled and a lot less ending up in landfills.

If you are new to recycling or are interested in learning more, it is a good idea to understand what PET is. PET is plastic made out of polyethylene terephthalate and is used to make:

  • Water bottles

  • Soda bottles

  • Medicine containers

  • And many other plastics we encounter each day

Plastics are classified as types and there are 7 types that are numbered 1 to 7 surrounded by a triangle of arrows on the bottle.  This system was implemented in 1988 by The Society of the Plastics Industry so that both consumers and recyclers could tell the difference between the different types of plastics.  This coding also provides a uniform coding system that manufacturers can use. 

As for PET, or type 1 plastics, they are the easiest to recycle.  Once PET has been processed by the recycling center, it can be turned into:

  • Filling for sleeping bags

  • Filling for lifejackets

  • Filling for winter coats

  • Construction of bean bags

  • Car bumpers

  • Rope

  • Combs

  • Tennis ball felt

  • Furniture

  • Other plastic bottles

The list goes on and on, but through enforcing a recycling program, a business can take their plastic waste and put it back into the market, which is cost-efficient in many ways.  First of all, prices stay down when plastics are recycled. If plastics had to be created from scratch all of the time, the cost of creating that plastic would be more than reusing plastic.

Tips / Do’s and Don’ts of Recycling PET-Type 1 Plastics

  • Don’t look at your recycling bin as a second trash can thinking all the recyclables will be sorted at the distribution center. There is a good chance that if you toss something in a recycling bin that isn’t recycled by that particular distribution center, it will end up in the trash rather than being recycled as it should be.

  • Remove lids and labels. The plastic lids on soda bottles are made from a different plastic than the bottle, therefore they cannot be recycled along with the plastic bottles. It is also a good idea to remove them so this process does not have to be done at the recycling depot. The labels you remove can be put in with your paper recycling. Again, by removing the labels this is one less step the staff at the recycling center has to do which will make processing the items faster.

  • Rinse your containers. Chances are that unless your type 1 bottle contained water, it has left a sugary or sticky remnant behind. Having sticky containers lying around can lead to unwanted visitors such as ants, as well as having a dirty trash bin. If you do mix your bottles and paper recyclables in the same recycling bin, you risk contaminating the paper by the non-water liquid which will make your paper unrecyclable.  

How can the business benefit?

With the reduction in the manufacturing cost of type 1 plastics due to recycling, the business pays less for products that are contained within these plastics.  The business also contributes to a cleaner environment.  However, something else the business can benefit through is by the acquisition of additional funds.

As more and more people are beginning to realize, recycling centers pay good money for the PET.  It is a great way for businesses to generate additional funds and save the environment at the same time.  Nevertheless, when a business decides to put a recycling program in place, there are many things that must be considered such as who is going to be in charge of the recycling program, how the program is going to be communicated to other employees, how the PET is going to be collected, and how it is going to be packaged for pick-up by the recycling center.

Basic Benefits of PET Recycling are:

  • Plastic PET Recycling can help reduce waste disposal costs (since the PET Plastic is removed from the waste stream).

  • Plastic PET Recycling can generate revenues from the sale of the recycled PET.

  • Plastic PET Recycling can reduce labor costs associated with the handling of PET during the waste disposal process.

  • Plastic PET Recycling can help with streamlining overall waste processing operations.

  • Plastic PET Recycling can help free up space (used for the temporary storage of PET).

  • Plastic PET Recycling can help improve workplace safety and neatness.

PET Recycling Equipment Considerations

Balers can help make the PET recycling process a lot easier. Many companies do not have back room areas that are very large.  This means that they cannot afford to waste space. A baler can be utilized to compact the materials in to a tight “bale,” which not only conserves space but also makes pick-up easier and transportation more efficient.  The only space that the company will need to carefully consider is the space required for a baler, which means measuring the desired area or footprint and operating height to understand the alternatives that are available.  It is also a good idea to leave at least a 2 foot perimeter buffer around the sides and back of the baler with additional space in the areas where it is loaded and unloaded.  If the PET collected is a considerable volume, it is also in the best interest of the business to be sure that the baler can handle the volumes of PET that are collected.  If the baler is too small, then the company will be continuously making bales and possibly not have room for them while waiting for the recycling company to pick it up. 

Balers for PET come in many sizes and styles, generally producing bale sizes of 24” to 84” (width of the bale) and typically referred to as either vertical balers or horizontal balers.   

Bale weights for PET can range from around 120 pounds for a small standard 30” baler up to 1,000 pounds for a 60” Industrial Baler with an 8" Cylinder or 10” Cylinder. Typically the baled material is moved with a forklift or pallet jack.  Usually the overall recycling process for PET or any other recyclable is fairly simple and routine after a short learning curve has been endured. With a 60” Vertical Baler with an 8” cylinder bale weights will be around 800 lbs. to 1,000 lbs. There is also the Bottle Can Specialty Balers for PET bottles and Aluminum Cans that are full or partially full of liquids.

Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com

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