Waste collection and removal equipment comes in a variety of sizes, functionalities and use cases. Choosing the right equipment is important for a business to reduce waste and operational costs, while also remaining compliant. Here at Rubicon, we receive lots of questions from new and existing customers regarding waste equipment, and it’s our job to help find the right match for every scenario.  

For example, businesses using collection bins that are larger than necessary could be paying too much for equipment they don’t need or paying for pickups when the bin is only half full. Using proper equipment for different waste types – such as wet waste – is also critical for reasons of environmental compliance. One of the more common questions we get is, “How do I know if my business needs a baler or a compactor, or both?” Let’s dig in.

When to use a Compactor

Compactors are used to compress unsorted solid waste materials or recycling so that they take up less space in a business’s waste container. By compacting the volume, businesses are able to fit more into one container, reducing the frequency and cost of waste pickups and eliminating waste clutter in their back of house operations.

Compactors range in size from two to 40 yards and are kept on premise, so they are generally used by businesses producing large amounts of waste material and have a large back-of-house area. While compactors are often used to compress traditional municipal solid waste (MSW) or “garbage,” it’s important to reduce the amount of organic or food waste material deposited into the compactor for sanitation and weight reasons.

For businesses that produce a large amount of food or organic waste, it’s a good idea to look into specialized organic waste equipment, such as dehydrators, anaerobic digesters, liquid anaerobic digesters or composters.

When to use a Baler

Balers are used to compress recyclable materials such as cardboard, paper and/or plastics into tight bundles for recycling collection and resale to commodity markets. Unlike a compactor, they are not designed for use with unsorted general waste.

Vertical balers are operated manually and are most commonly used by businesses with small or medium amounts of recycling. Horizontal balers are designed for higher waste volumes and are operated automatically. Balers often make recycling more economical because the solid blocks are more easily resold for higher commodity market values.

For businesses producing large amounts of both general waste and recyclable commodities, it could be appropriate to have both a compactor and a baler, space allowing. Talk to your waste provider to see if the new or different equipment is right for you.

At the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing waste equipment, and for multi-location businesses, the equipment may vary by each location. For more details on choosing the right waste equipment or managing waste programs across multiple locations, be sure to download our Rubicon guide to Increasing Operational Efficiency in Waste Reduction Programs.

Got more questions related to OCC recycling or other waste streams? Download our Waste Stream Management Guide or tune in to the next edition of Dear Rubicon!