NATIONAL CITY , There’s a growth industry for making things smaller.
Eric Michelson, owner of National City-based A-1 Hydraulic Service, sells recycling balers, which compact recyclables, reducing the volume of waste for businesses. Sales are strong and are expected to continue.
Michelson cites the many advantages of balers. They save money, save space, help protect the environment and even help deter theft.
Jason Mino, spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based J.V. Manufacturing, calls the recycling baler one of the best investments a company can make. His company makes the Cram-A-Lot brand of recycling baler at its plants in Arkansas and in Sacramento.
“Rather than spending money to discard recyclable items like cardboard boxes, cloth and paper, companies can use balers to turn them into revenue,” he said.
“Additionally, waste volume reduction lowers hauling costs and saves valuable storage and landfill space. Fewer man-hours spent handling bulk waste, and freeing up space no longer used to store trash, quickly adds up to significant savings.”
A baler is not the same thing as a trash compactor. A compactor compresses materials into a receiving container that is either dumped onsite or hauled to a trash receiving station.
A baler takes loose, recyclable products and compresses them into a bundle that is bound for easy handling, Mino said.
Balers come in all shapes and sizes, with the largest used for warehouses and other such operations where there is a huge volume of paper or cardboard. Most produce bales that are manually bound, but the very high-speed balers bind automatically, he said.
In today’s political climate, a baler is an absolute necessity, Michelson said. He cited laws recently passed by the state Legislature requiring municipalities to reduce their waste and reduce the amount of trash ending up in landfills.
“What many people are doing now is throwing cardboard away , they’re throwing paper away. And that’s all ending up in the landfill. If they separate that out, get that out of the waste stream, their waste hauling bills are reduced, because they’re not having to be hauled as often,” he said.
Michelson said balers also take something businesses are paying to have hauled away and turn it into a revenue-generating material.
Currently, cardboard pays around $80 a ton , although it has gone as high as $200. Most balers make a bale that is 800 to 1,000 pounds. So, each bale could be worth as much as $100, Michelson said.
A baler also reduces clutter. Rather than having paper or cardboard strewn all over the place, these recyclables are compacted into neat bales, he said.
The compacted bales can also help deter theft. When loose cardboard is left lying around, it can attract derelicts who go into dumpsters for cardboard or other recyclables, Michelson said.
Once these people are attracted into the area, they can become emboldened by an open door or window and go on to steal other things, he said.
Balers are versatile and can compress a number of recyclable items , from paper and cardboard to Styrofoam and plastic, and even aluminum siding and automobile parts, Michelson said.
A-1 Hydraulics is one of several businesses locally that carry balers. Michelson predicts balers will always be big business.
“One thing about trash is, whether times are good or times are bad, people are still making it,” he said. “As landfills shrink, landfill prices go up and people begin to pay more attention to their trash bills. When you get handed a trash bill that’s twice as large this year as last year, your first thought is, ‘How am I going to make this smaller?’ And the only answer is reduction of waste stream.”