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Bundling, Compacting or Baling your Cardboard

While there are numerous ways to address the need to handle large amounts of scrap cardboard and paper, baling and compacting are the most common.

Cardboard and paper typically generated in large quantity from distribution centers, large retailers and liquor stores, printers, manufacturing facilities – and many other locations – has to be efficiently handled and recycled.

We are contacted on a regular basis to quote on “baled” cardboard – only to find out the material is really only “bundled”, and not baled.  Unfortunately bundled cardboard is really just a pile of cardboard or paper that needs to be properly baled prior to shipment to a paper mill.

What’s the difference between bundles and bales of  cardboard?

  • Bundles of cardboard are merely stacked and strapped or tied – maybe using the heaviest employee in the warehouse to sit on it to obtain the heaviest bundle!
  • Baled cardboard has been compressed by a baler into a bale that usually weigh between 900-1200 lbs.

Why bale cardboard?

Baling is performed for two reasons. The first is to make the handling and storage of the baled paper more cost effective. Handling and storing densely baled paper and cardboard is much easier and more cost effective.

The second is freight cost. Each tractor trailer load of cardboard or paper being shipped to a mill for recycling has a transportation cost attached. This cost can vary widely – determined by the distance from the recycler to the final destination. The distance could range from 150 miles to the other side of the world.

By being able to load the maximum amount of legal weight into each trailer or export container – the “per ton” cost of freight is kept to a minimum.

What equipment do I need to bale or compact my cardboard?

Facilities that choose to bale typically have adequate warehouse and floor space for a machine, as well as ample storage space for the finished bales. It also requires labor – as the baler needs to be filled and the bales tied and then stored. (Automatic balers are available for higher volume generators, which can be automatically fed and bales tied.)

Should a facility not have adequate floor or storage space then compacting is the next option. Typically a stationary compactor is placed outside a building, and the cardboard or paper is tossed into a hopper or thru the wall chute. A hydraulic ram then compacts the material into an attached container.

This compactor container is then removed and transported to a recycling facility, such as Miller Recycling – where the cardboard or paper is then baled.

Compacting is a very efficient and cost effective way to process cardboard and paper, however it does not result in as high a monetary return to the customer, as the recycler is the one in charge of the baling, and needs to recover this cost.

If you have questions about bundling, compacting, or baling your cardboard or paper, please contact us.