A bale of a time

Written by: Steed Webzell | Published:
Presona LP 50 EH

Steed Webzell compresses the pertinent facts concerning the latest baling machine installations at companies seeking greater impact, efficiency and environmental credentials – as well as additional revenue streams – from their cardboard recycling initiatives, taking in fashion retailers, an electricals distributor and caterers

In recent years, recycling and waste management have become undeniable priorities for UK businesses of all sizes. Baling machines are at the heart of this trend, allowing companies to efficiently sort at source, store, compact and bundle the cardboard packaging waste streams they generate.

Among the latest to grasp this fact is sports fashion retailer JD Sports, which has turned to Whitham Mills to design, install and maintain a new waste management system at its national distribution centre in Rochdale. The six-figure contract will see Whitham Mills install a 1,700mm-wide conveyor which will transport waste cardboard to a 20 tonnes-per-hour GB1111FS baler situated outside the main distribution centre building.

Waste streams in distribution centres are identified as a potential fire risk, a fact that means Whitham Mills has set about designing an enclosed baler feed conveyor system that includes an automatic fire door and fire-suppressing sprinklers.

If activated, the system will automatically close the fire door at the conveyor’s exit point, isolating the fire and allowing the sprinkler system to take control.

The design will separate both the waste stream and its sprinkler system from the rest of the distribution centre, reducing any risk of water and smoke damage to the stored stock awaiting fulfilment.

Fire risks at distribution centres were starkly demonstrated in September 2014 when a fire at online fashion retailer ASOS’s distribution centre in Barnsley was reported to have caused £30 million of damage.

“In this instance we will install a system which will suppress any fire in a way that will protect stock and allow the distribution centre to return to operations as quickly as possible,” says Ben Smart, managing director at Whitham Mills.

Whitham Mills won the contract following a recommendation from JD Sports’ waste management company, Wheldon Brothers. A service contract will also be provided.

Toeing the ‘eco’ line

In neighbouring Yorkshire, at the Doncaster branch of electrical distributor Edmundson Electrical, another new waste baler has been installed in support of company initiatives to ‘go green’.

As the largest electricals distributor in the UK – with more than 280 branches nationwide – it is no surprise that Edmundson Electrical produces a large amount of packaging waste. However, as an environmentally friendly business with a number of resource-efficient initiatives already in place, branch manager Nick Hope knew that a smarter recycling strategy could be adopted.

“We have solar panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout the building to maximise our energy efficiency,” he says. “We also have a voltage optimiser which helps us reduce our electricity consumption, and two electrical cars – and counting – within our fleet. We’ve therefore seen the environmental and financial benefits that come with savvy ‘green’ thinking, so recycling our plastic and cardboard waste was the logical next step.”

Aware that a waste baler could facilitate smarter materials handling – while reducing the charges associated with multiple weekly skip collections – Hope took to the internet to search for Edmundson’s first machine. Impressed with the advice, feedback and prompt responses from one particular baler specialist, the search stopped at Riverside Waste Machinery.

Riverside’s managing director Jonathan Oldfield recommended the RWM 150 baler, a mid-range model capable of producing bales of up to 150kg. With an ergonomic design for ease of operation, this hydraulic machine also has automatic bale ejection and a three-twine tying system to ensure a secure cardboard or plastic bale.

“Since purchasing the baler we have halved the number of packaging waste collections from our Doncaster site,” states Hope. “This in turn has reduced our waste management costs, and that’s before we take into account the yield from the sale of our bales. We now produce 10 bales a week, not only generating revenue for the business, but also helping the wider environment at the same time.”

Saving time and space

The story is similar at luxury food supplier Harvey & Brockless, which installed a Strautmann AutoLoadBaler supplied by Compact & Bale at its Battersea, London facility to improve operational efficiency, reduce waste disposal costs and generate an additional revenue stream.

“Our staff were spending at least two and a half hours a day taking waste cardboard in bins to the compactor outside,” says business improvement manager Warren Kruger.

“We needed to find a better solution to our waste issue.”

After encountering Compact & Bale at a trade exhibition, Kruger wanted to re-evaluate the waste management process so that staff could spend more time on the company’s core business and less time on waste handling.

Prior to installation of the Strautmann AutoLoadBaler, employees at the food manufacturer were filling a 32-metre portable compactor full of cardboard and general waste, ready to be sent to landfill every week. Staff were making 15 10-minute journeys a day taking bins outside to the compactor.

After a review, Compact & Bale concluded that if Strautmann’s AutoLoadBaler was installed, cardboard could be baled sufficiently quickly to reduce labour costs, generate new income and divert resourceful material away from landfill.

The machine has been such a success that Harvey & Brockless is now looking to replace its other standard vertical baler with a second AutoLoadBaler.

Continuing the food industry theme, Cannock-based First Choice Group, which specialises in meeting the needs of the commercial catering market, has been busy in recent years expanding its core business of commercial catering spare parts supply.

“As our growth has increased over the past few years, so has our proportion of cardboard packaging waste,” says Mark Benson at First Choice Group. “We hadn’t had a baling press previously and were looking for a company that understood our requirements.”

Making the right choice

Selecting the right technology partner is clearly an important aspect of any baler installation project. With this in mind, First Choice Group conducted thorough market research before concluding that HSM came out on top in terms of product quality, as well as for having in place its own in-house aftersales support operation.

“After a site visit to the local HSM distributor and some extensive research into the requirements and demands of First Choice Group in relation to the equipment available, we selected an HSM V-Press 1160,” says Benson. “The reason for our choice was the machine’s capability to handle our day-to-day business requirements, while being cost-effective, low-maintenance and energy-efficient, due to its simplicity.”

The installation of the HSM 1160 at First Choice Group means that cardboard which was previously collected loosely in skips is now being baled into mill-size bales and recycled, thus generating revenue for the business. The wire-tied baling press produces a 500kg bale. Furthermore, the latest generation HSM V-Press 1160 offers quicker cycle time, a quieter motor and greater energy efficiency than its predecessor model.

“Thanks to its large hopper, which is ideal for the size of cardboard we handle, the machine produces bales of compressed recycling card that are easily handled and stored while waiting for disposal,” says Benson.

Ultimately, the introduction of the HSM V-Press 1160 baler to the waste management stream at First Choice Group has not only created more space from the loose cardboard, but enabled the business to ensure compliance with its environmental policy and reduce waste to landfill.


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