A new baler is at the top of Elk County Recycling Coordinator Bekki Titchner's wish list for the Community Recycling Center, located in the Stackpole Complex in St. Marys. Titchner recently submitted an application to the Stackpole Hall Foundation requesting a grant to help cover the cost of the new equipment.
The center's current bailer is rented from JaSar, which is the company the center is contracted with to handle the distribution of its recyclables. Since the recycling center is using JaSar's bailer, they are not paid full price for their bales of recyclables and they are required to market their items through the company as well.
"JaSar would pay us more [if we had our own baler], and then if we decided that we would want to use another company to market with, we would be able to do that," Titchner said. "At this point we have to sell with JaSar and at the lower rate because they own the baler."
Titchner indicated that, so far, she and others associated with the center have conducted a lot of research on balers and talked to some baler companies. Much of the focus has been on determining what equipment would be best suited to meet the center's specific needs.
"The issue that we have is that a lot of our workforce is older, so we have to make it easier for people to get the job done, as well as make a better bale of plastic," Titchner said. "The baler that we're using now is jut old. It doesn't have enough pressure to make a really good bale of plastic. We're looking at some sort of automation to get the plastic into the baler rather than lift those boxes up over people's heads, because you're talking about four or five guys that help us out that are all in their 70s."
The current baler's lack of pressure also hinders the center's ability to get as much material into their bales, especially when it comes to #1 plastic bottles. According to Titchner, #1 plastic bottles tend to hold their form and are particularly difficult for the baler to compact.