City purchases new baler for recycling plant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 14, 2015

City of Andalusia employees Dwayne Sutton (left) and Lewis Demmings turn on the new baler at the recycling plant Monday afternoon. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

City of Andalusia employees Dwayne Sutton (left) and Lewis Demmings turn on the new baler at the recycling plant Monday afternoon. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Through an Alabama Department of Environmental Management grant, the city of Andalusia’s Public Works Department bought a new baler and shredder to aid in its recycling operations.

Out of the $127,000 grant, $123,000 was used to purchase the two new pieces of machinery. The baler was installed on Sunday, and the shredder will be installed May 6.

Andalusia Director of Public Works Glynn Ralls was busy helping install the mammoth 10-ton baler over the weekend.

Ralls said the recycling center bales plastic bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard and two types of plastic, including milk jugs and the No. 2-marked bottles.

Ralls said the new baler is 18 inches wider than the older model, and produces bigger — and heavier — bales.

Each new bale stands 40 inches tall, 48 inches wide and weighs approximately a ton.

In a 20-year span, the old baler compacted approximately 12,000 tons — or 545, 40-foot trailers full — of recyclables, and saved the city $250,000, Ralls said.

Ralls said the new baler doesn’t separate the recycling, it only compacts it into bales.

That’s where city employees Ray Lee, Robert Elliott, Dwayne Sutton and Lewis Demmings come into the picture.

Standing around a square box littered with labels from the various plastic bottles and cans that have been recycled through the facility, all four were busy separating recyclables.

Once Lee, Elliott, Sutton and Demmings finish weeding out what is recyclable and what isn’t, the recycling is then loaded onto an inclined conveyer belt, which carries it the recycling to the new baler, waiting below.

Ralls said the baler uses knives to help compact the recyclables into the block.

To stay ahead of schedule, Ralls said the crew doubled up Friday’s cardboard run to go ahead and get Monday’s work already done.

Once the bales are formed, they are carted to an open pavilion at the facility, where they waits to be purchased by brokers all around the United States.

Ralls said a bale of cardboard goes for $80 per ton, and the money goes to help with fuel and other expenses.

Additionally, the baler also helps save landfill space.

Right now, Ralls said around 35 percent of city residents recycle, and there are 105 cardboard trailers distributed at local businesses in town.

“We wish it was higher,” he said.

Ralls said those who are interested in recycling can call the office at 222-0862 and ask to be put on the recycling route. Residents can deliver their own recycling to the facility as well, he said.

Residents are encouraged to fill their green recycle bags two-thirds full.

There’s no need to separate the recycling, as the city takes care of that manually.

To find a list of recyclable items that are accepted, visit the public work’s website at Click on the “departments” tab and click on the “recycling/landfill” tab.