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Recycling old corrugated cardboard (OCC) can be economically beneficial
for business and industry, and it can be easily targeted in any recycling
program. North Carolina companies are at various stages in establishing
cardboard recycling programs: while many have well-established programs,
others are just beginning to initiate a program or are evaluating whether to
bale cardboard for better cost control.
In general, recycling markets for OCC are well established, and
restrictions such as landfill ordinances increase the urgency to recycle.
Below are some options for managing waste cardboard and general guidelines
for baling cardboard on-site.
The OCC Problem
Old corrugated cardboard makes up a significant percentage of landfilled
waste. Studies in Wake County show that OCC comprised 26 percent of the
commercial/industrial/institutional waste stream and 18 percent of all
municipal solid waste entering the county's landfills in 1992. In efforts to
reduce landfilled waste, several counties and cities have enacted ordinances
to ban or place surcharges on waste loads containing OCC. Other
municipalities are planning similar restrictive ordinances. The Office of
Waste Reduction can provide current restriction ordinances or resolutions in
place for the local government units.
Even if there is no local ordinance concerning OCC, a company avoids
disposal costs and keeps recyclables out of the landfill by recycling. When
it comes to managing cardboard, consider the following:
Start a waste reduction program for OCC; look for ways to reduce and
reuse corrugated cardboard.
Examine the available markets for OCC.
Consider the pros and cons of baling OCC on-site.
Even if you already have an OCC recycling program in place, look for
ways to improve/expand it.
Establishing a Cardboard Recycling Program
There are many ways to establish an OCC recycling program. The cardboard
may be collected loose or baled. It can be picked up or delivered to a local
recycler. An OCC recycler will work with you to set up logistics that best
meet your needs.
To locate an OCC recycler, (1) contact the local municipality or county
recycling coordinator, (2) look under "Recycling Centers" in the
telephone book, or (3) contact the Office of Waste Reduction in Raleigh at
(919) 715-6500 or 1-800-763-0136.
Determining the Amount of OCC Generated
Many companies are surprised to find out how much cardboard they
generate. The chart below lists estimated weights of loose OCC in containers
of different sizes at 100 percent of capacity.
Estimated Weights of Loose, Flattened Cardboard Boxes
To Bale or Not To Bale
While many businesses recycle loose OCC, the economics of baling the
cardboard should be evaluated. The first step in making such a determination
is to get acceptable bale sizes and purchase prices from the local OCC
recycler. If the cardboard is currently selling at $0.50 per 100 pounds ($10
per ton) in a loose form, this same cardboard in baled form may bring $20
per ton. Savings may also result from avoided hauling costs, by baling
several materials for recycling, or by sharing a baler with another company.
The following are some general guidelines.
Determining Baler Size. Baler size is application-specific and
is based on storage space constraints, OCC collection and handling
methods, and buyer specifications. Assuming that it takes 40 minutes to
load and strap a bale from a vertical baler (300- to 1,000-pound bales)
and that all the OCC is at the baler location, one employee will be
needed to load the baler and one or two to strap the bale. Unless the
facility is generating very high volumes of OCC (greater than 25 tons a
month), a vertical baler should have sufficient capacity.
Baler Cost and Bale Volumes. The following information
concerning bale volumes may be of interest. Costs are average list
prices in November 1993.
Average List Price
36 x 15
48 x 28
60 x 28
72 x 28
72 x 32
Average List Price
28 x 50
46 x 50
45 x 60
Determining Other Costs of Baling
Labor. Since loading and tying a bale take about 40 minutes,
labor costs can be determined by this time requirement. Compare this
time to the time required to collect, break down boxes, and load your
Baling Wire. Wire costs for different bale sizes vary between
$0.80 to $1.00 per bale.
Electrical Usage. The kWh used will vary widely, although an
estimate for one 750-pound bale was $1.05.
Annual Maintenance. One or 2 percent of baler purchase price
will cover average annual maintenance.
Note that other recyclable materials such as plastic film wrap, textile
scraps, and other plastics can also be baled. The equipment investment may
well pay for itself with the added value you'll receive from baled
Take a close look at the cardboard recycling program at your
facility. Don't get caught in the squeeze of high disposal costs
without knowing all your recycling options. Call the Office of Waste
Reduction at (919) 715-6500, FAX (919) 715-6794, or e-mail OWR
for assistance with your waste management program.
The North Carolina Office of Waste Reduction provides free,
non-regulatory technical assistance on methods to eliminate, reduce, or
recycle wastes before they become pollutants or require disposal.
Case Study: Company Z
An Example of Cost Avoidance and Cost Savings From a
Corrugated Cardboard Recycling Program
Company Z manufactures widgets for sale nationwide. Many of its raw
materials come packaged in corrugated cardboard boxes. In fact, cardboard
represents half the company's waste. Company Z rents a 30-yd3
roll-off container from a private waste hauler for $50 a month. The hauler
takes full loads from the company to the landfill once a week and charges
$70 per haul. Company Z is charged a tipping fee of $20 per ton at the
landfill; each of its loads weighs about 4 tons.
Current Waste Costs for Company
Total annual waste stream: 52 weeks x 4 tons/wk.
Total annual tipping fees: 208 tons x $20/ton
Total annual container rent: 12 months x $50/month
Total annual hauling costs: 52 weeks x $70/haul
Total Annual (external) Waste Handling Costs
(Total annual costs if tipping fee is $40/ton)
After examining its waste stream and current waste costs, Company Z
decides to buy a baler to recycle its cardboard. The Company works with the
local recycling coordinator to help institute the program and to find a
market for the cardboard. Company Z realizes that recycling entails some
costs but sees recycling as a way to avoid even bigger costs in the long
Annual "Cost" of Recycling
for Company Z
Annualized cost of purchase and installation of baler
($7,500 divided by 5 years; baler lasts 12 years)
Cost of baling wire per year for cardboard baler
Annual cost of electricity and maintenance of baler
Added personnel operating costs of using baler (Two hours/wk at
Avoided hauling fees (No. of hauls cut in half)
Avoided tipping fees (at $20/ton)
Revenue from sale of cardboard ($10/ton)
Total cost (savings) from recycling
In addition, Company Z has saved 200 yd3 of space in the
landfill, thereby helping the county stave off the day when it must find a
new landfill. The recycling of 104 tons of paper has also saved about 1,750
trees, saved water, helped prevent air and water pollution, and saved
426,000 kWh of energy.
Buoyed by its success, Company Z re-examined its waste stream and
discovered other items to recycle such as office paper, metal bands, film
plastic, aluminum cans, and pallets. Company Z once more contacted the local
recycling coordinator for assistance in finding markets for these items.
Industrial Pollution Prevention Section. March 1994.
For further compactor, baler, and drum crusher information, please call or fax us at the numbers below.
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