Nemaha County Recycling program has new baler

This is the new baler, which was put in operation in 2018.

Submitted by Nancy Gafford

Nemaha County Recycling Committee

This is the second in a series of articles submitted by the Nemaha County Recycling Committee celebrating the Nemaha County Recycling program in observation of National Recycling Day on Friday, Nov. 15.

The Nemaha County Recycling program was begun in 1992 with the first collection day in Sabetha followed later that month by a collection day in Seneca. Since that time, two recycling buildings and a hazardous waste holding center have been added at the Nemaha County Landfill, and trailers are located at six sites throughout the county with an additional large drop-off site located at the fairgrounds in Seneca. The 2016 estimated population of the county was 10,241 and virtually the entire population of the county is served by the established recycling services.

The first building at the Landfill was built in 1994 and a used Excel EX62 baler – built in August 2002 – was the first piece of equipment purchased and installed in the new building. In 2018, it became apparent that the 16-year-old baler was worn out and in great need of replacement. The bushings were worn out causing pins to break, the hydraulics had gradually become slower and slower and the guides for the wires that go around the finished bales were worn so it was frequently impossible to get the wires through the guides after the bale was made. Repairs on the baler were labor intensive and becoming more so.

This baler had been well used with the break downs becoming increasingly frequent. The efforts of a dedicated recycling staff could no longer hold the baler together with “baling wire, chewing gum and masking tape.” In short, the current baler had served its purpose well, but the time had come to replace it. Each breakdown resulted in loss of time the baler could be in use and caused less efficient use of staff time, resulting in a decreased amount of materials that could be processed.

The Nemaha County Commissioners knew it was time to replace the baler and, with the cooperation of the Nemaha County Recycling Committee, applied for and received a grant of $25,000 from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Waste Management Division, which had also helped fund the original two large buildings at the recycling center.

A conveyor was used to deposit materials in the original baler and it was in good condition, so this was one of the considerations in choosing a new baler. A Marren ProPak 60 Full Penetration Closed-Door Baler that was compatible with the current conveyor was chosen. Both the amount of materials and efficiency in handling would be improved with the new baler. While projections are always difficult, Nemaha County Road and Bridge/Solid Waste Supervisor Dennis Ronnebaum estimates that the recycling center will go from currently handling 163 tons of recycled materials to handling 2,269 tons of materials in three years.

Visitors are always welcome at the recycling center located at the Nemaha County Landfill located at 1872 U.S. Highway 36. We are proud of this new addition to the recycling program and encourage you to come out and see it in action.

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