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Harper College Students.pngHarper College in Palatine, Illinois, is a 180-acre community college serving 16,000 students. After years of watching recycled material get mixed in with their main trash stream, the school’s Physical Plant Department decided they needed a better way to reduce trash pick-up costs while boosting the school’s recycling rate. 

Recognizing The Problem

For several years, Harper College had used an open-top dumpster and two compactors to manage its garbage and recycling. The problem was that everything was going in the dumpster, including cardboard and other recyclables. This much trash often required frequent trash pick-ups. Excessive cardboard often pushed the college’s weekly trash pickup bill to $600 per week.

Nancy Savard, Logistics Supervisor at Harper College, says the root of the problem was two-fold. Firstly, a lack of recycling awareness meant that much of the college’s cardboard waste was simply getting tossed in the open-top dumpster instead of into the compactor to prepare it for recycling. The second problem was that the school’s existing cardboard compactor wasn’t large enough to handle all the cardboard they wanted to bale.

Creating a Winning Solution

Savard’s team decided to make some changes. Since recyclable cardboard constituted a huge percentage of their waste volume, they purchased an Orwak Power Baler, a high-capacity cardboard baler. The Orwak Power Baler is a front-loading compactor capable of creating bales as large as 880 pounds. The machine is simple to use with just a 35-second cycle time and secure door locking for safety. 

According to Savard, “We were amazed at the capability of the Orwak Power Baler to gobble up cardboard. The size of the bale was double that of our previous baler. Removing all of our cardboard from our trash stream is saving us $15,000 a year in trash pick-up costs.”

In addition to the Orwak Power, the Logistics team at Harper College replaced the open-top dumpster with three Orwak trash compactors

Final Grade: Harper College Gets an A+ for Increasing Recycling Rates by 25% and Decreasing Costs by 30%. 

Since Harper College introduced the Orwak trash compactors and cardboard baler, they have seen a huge difference in overall waste removal costs. Before they added the Orwak machines, the school was paying approximately $50,000 a year in weekly trash pick-up costs. With the Orwak machines, it is paying approximately $35,000 a year with pick-ups only once or twice a month.

“We no longer have an open-top dumpster, so there’s no temptation to put cardboard in the trash stream (it’s logistically difficult to put cardboard into the trash compactor). This allows us to cut our trash pickup costs dramatically,” says Savard.

Since the cardboard is kept completely separate from the rest of the trash, the large bales are more recycler-friendly. “Our recycling processor prefers larger bales; it allows them to come less frequently and garners them a better price when they sell it,” says Savard.

Lastly and most importantly, the new equipment has helped Harper increase its recycling rate by 25%. Harper College gets an A+ for creating a winning concept and excellence in execution.



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