Making the decision to invest in capital equipment is difficult enough, no matter what industry you’re in. In the recycling sector, fluctuating commodity prices, changing regulations and unpredictable export markets can turn things on their head overnight. The market for the materials you’re currently processing can dry up quickly. Or you could suddenly find that your processes no longer comply with new regulations.
For these reasons, we think it’s important to consider versatility as a factor in your equipment buying decisions.
Why is versatility important?
Think about what would happen if the supply or demand dried up for the materials you’re recycling. We all know downtime is the fastest way to lose money once you’ve invested in a recycling machine. It’s bad enough if it’s only a few hours while you get equipment repaired. But if you can’t get feed stock any more, or your traditional output is no longer in demand, it’s a disaster in the making.
This is where versatility can save you. The more versatile your waste recycling equipment is, the more easily you’ll be able to switch to processing different materials if conditions suddenly change.
Selecting your waste recycling equipment
Of course, we’d always recommend buying equipment that’s optimized for the materials you want to process. But we feel including some emphasis on versatility in your buying decision makes sense.
Let’s say you’re looking for a horizontal baler for larger volumes of paper and OCC. An excellent option for plain or shredded paper and OCC is an open-end auto-tie baler. It’s designed specifically for this purpose. However, this option doesn’t give you the same versatility as the right two-ram baler. A good quality two-ram with a bale separation door, as well as easily adjustable baling pressure and tie spacing, would be almost as effective as an open-end auto-tie for paper and OCC. To get the same throughput as the open-end auto-tie might cost a little more up front, but you’d gain a significant advantage in the long term: You’d be able to switch to processing other material down the road if prices for paper and OCC suddenly drop. With the right two-ram baler, you could easily make the switch from baling paper and OCC, to other material such as plastics, metals and even e-waste. This switch would be very difficult with an open-ended auto-tie baler.
Here’s another example. If you’re in the business of shredding documents, with the right kind of shredder machine, you could make the switch to product destruction for plastics, or shredding e-waste. You’d still be able to shred paper, but a more versatile shredder would give you the option of switching if necessary. The right multi-purpose shredder might require a little more up-front investment than a paper shredder, but could help ensure you’d survive whatever surprises the recycling market throws at you.
We feel that including versatility as a factor in your equipment buying decisions will be more important as the pace of change increases in the commercial recycling sector. Please contact us for more tips.