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At the end of June, Illinois State’s Recycling Center added a baler to expand its ability to reduce, reuse, and recycle initiative.

“It took two years to receive funding through the Sustainability fund, and I started collecting Styrofoam from move in before we secured the funding for the baler just hoping it will come to fruition and it did,” said Andrew Bennett, recycling coordinator.

While the University has been recycling cardboard and paper for a while, the baler allows us to expand to Styrofoam, large plastic bags, and shrink-wrap. Our recycling team has already begun baling items and will do a lot more as these are popular waste items with student move in.

How much does a bale weigh? Cardboard ≈ 1,000 pounds, Styrofoam ≈ 200 pounds and plastic wrap ≈ over 700 pounds

“Local repurposing centers would not buy these items loose, so the baler allows us to reduce landfill items and send them for reuse,” Bennett said. “The mattress bags from housing are a great example of items that used to go to landfills that are now baled and sold for repurposing.”

Once workers load the baling cage, the material is compressed using a vertical down stroke ram that puts thousands of pounds of pressure on it. Once the ram is released, workers position the wire around it and tie it off.

Repurposing businesses (like Midwest Fiber) pay a higher rate for baled items, which is another beneficial advantage to this initiative.

The installation of the baler was truly a team effort. Our grounds crew transported and unloaded it at the Recycling Center. The carpenters bolted the baler into place and electricians connected it to the power box.

Thank you to all who were a part of this installation, adding to the University’s commitment to preserving our environment.