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Basic differences of each baler category 


Balers are an essential component to any recycling program.  They enable recycling operations to pack large amounts of recyclable material into a far more compact shape, allowing easier storage and, later on, easier shipment.  They can also provide businesses with an extra source of income.  Although there are a wide variety of balers on the market and they sometimes vary in their applications, almost all of them fall into one of two main groups:  vertical (or downstoke balers) and horizontal balers.  Each style comes with its own set of benefits and disadvantages. 

Baler Use and Reference Guide

Baler Application Guide.

Vertical Balers

Vertical balers are those that process or compress waste materials with a vertical downward force.  Waste materials such as corrugated cardboard, PET plastics, or foam, are thrown into a chamber.  Once the chamber is filled, a gate is closed and the baler’s ram, which is housed above the chamber, moves towards the floor, crushing the recyclable waste.  This process is repeated until the chamber is full, at which time a bale is created by tying it up with baling wire and ejecting it from the machine.  Vertical balers are widely available, and they can process many of the same materials that are often processed by horizontal balers.

Many users of vertical balers will notice that they have several advantages over horizontal balers. 

1.   Smaller Footprint.  Vertical balers take up far less space than horizontal balers.  This allows them to be easily used in wider variety of applications than horizontal balers.   Vertical balers can be used in the same places horizontal balers can be used, but they may also be used where horizontal balers are impractical, including hospitality or amusement venues, commercial operations such as drug stores, supermarkets, retail, distribution centers, and many other industry segments.  Most of the larger vertical balers such as the 60” and 72” categories require a lot of extra ceiling height that can average 14 feet or more however there are some specialty balers that can operate with just an 8’ foot ceiling.

2.    Cost. Vertical balers typically cost much less than horizontal balers.  This can easily be a cost that is one fifth or even one tenth the price of a horizontal baler.

3.    Variety of Materials Processed. There are vertical balers available to process almost every type of recyclable waste – everything from simple office paper to non-ferrous metals.  Some vertical balers are also specialized, and they process things such as aluminum or plastic beverage containers or storage drums.

Despite their obvious advantages, there are several disadvantages to vertical balers.  The smaller models may produce bales that are not “mill standard,” making it more difficult to find end users willing to purchase them.  Their height can also be a problem for some applications – vertical balers can be much taller than their horizontal counterparts.  Additionally, the vertical balers may not work as well for recyclables that have less elasticity when baled – materials such as office paper or newsprint. 

Horizontal Balers

Horizontal balers process waste differently than vertical balers.  Recyclable waste is thrown into a hopper, and when the hopper is full, a ram from the side compresses the material with a horizontal force until the bale is complete.  The bale is then tied off with wires and ejected from the side of the baler.

Like vertical balers, horizontal balers have several advantages over vertical balers. 

1.     Higher Volume. Typically horizontal balers can process a higher volume of bales per day than vertical balers.  They may
 also produce bales that are larger than those produced by vertical balers.

2.     Consistency. Horizontal bales produce bales that are consistent in density and weight, making them easier to store in end
 users’ warehouses. 

3.     Convenience. Horizontal balers can be used with in-ground or above-ground conveyor belts, shredders, and air systems.
Such applications provide greater convenience for the consumer and often require less manpower to operate.

4.     Wider Applications. Most horizontal balers can process a wide variety of materials. They may process things such as
 painted aluminum siding or radiators, and they produce better bales for non-elastic materials such as newsprint or office

Like vertical balers, horizontal balers have their own set of disadvantages. 

1.     Size. Horizontal balers use far more floor space than vertical balers.  Some models are even 40’ feet in length, including
their platform and stairs. 

2.     Price. Horizontal balers generally cost much more than vertical balers, and this cost can be even greater if they are
 purchased with conveyance, air, or shredding systems. 


When choosing the proper baler, there are several questions to answer: 

       How many bales will I be producing on a daily basis?
The number of bales produced per day is in important factor.  Generally, vertical balers are best for operations producing no more than eight to ten bales per day.  Horizontal balers should be considered for operations creating a higher volume of bales. 

       How much can I spend? 
Price point is always a consideration with any purchase.  Remember:  horizontal balers can cost much more than vertical balers. 

       How much space do I have for a baler? 
Consider the height of your operation’s ceilings and the amount of floor space available, not only for ‘staging’ and operating the baler but also in the event that the baler requires service.


Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com  


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