Compaction of recyclables prior to shipping, whether by front/rear load bins, stationary compactors or simple packing with available loaders, saves shipping costs.
Templates, Tools and Resources
Municipal depot operators using open top roll-off containers to store and transfer materials can compare the benefits and savings from installing compactors in this guide developed under CIF project 764.
Compactor Savings Estimate Tool
This excel spreadsheet can help calculate the potential cost savings from installing a compactor.
CIF Price Sheet Analysis
As Ontario municipalities begin to transition in July 2023, there is a real risk that the number of contributing municipalities will decline and could compromise the production of the Price Sheet. The CIF undertook an analysis of the CIF Ontario Price Sheet (CIF #1172) at an approximate cost of $5,750 that will enable the CIF […]
Depot Services: Non-Eligible Sources Field Study
Research shows that depot only municipalities in Ontario need guidance to 1) gather accurate data on non-eligible sources using their site(s) (e.g., number, materials), and 2) understand what other options are available. An initial field study will be conducted with one partnering municipality, and, at the discretion of the CIF, it may be expanded to […]
Waste Audits – Sample Size and Statistical Validity
With transition fast approaching, the need to analyze and monitor the blue box programs performance is evident. The CIF is looking at the current blue box recovery rate calculation to determine the best course of action to track/measure performance throughout transition. Current audit methodology will be assessed and potentially modified to meet the needs of […]
Ineligible Sources Collection Planning Workshop
In June 2021, the Ontario government passed O. Reg. 391/21 – Blue Box, which itemizes those sources (i.e., residence, facility, and some public spaces) that will receive collection services by the producers soon to be responsible for the cost and operation of the blue box program. CIF will be facilitating online sessions to assist municipalities […]
Meeting Entropex’s Mixed Rigid Plastics Bale Specifications
Increase New Material The development of a bale specification and potential MRF modifications that will be required to supply material to Entropex. The work will be co-funded with Entropex. Documents Final Report: Mixed Rigid Plastics Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Blue Box Recycling Plan Workshops
Project to organize and deliver up to 10, one-day workshops to present and demonstrate the CIF Recycling Plan Guideline and Template materials developed under CIF Project #215. Workshops were held in Huntsville, Kingston, Hockley Valley, Dryden, Barrie, Sudbury, Ottawa and London. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Project #215 Categories
Recycling Program Evaluation
CIF is managing a project to review the current blue box program and recommend possible options for program enhancement. The CIF is undertaking the project at the request of the Municipality. Documents Final Report: Blue Box Recycling Program Best Practices Assessment Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Recycling Program Evaluation
CIF is managing a project to review the current blue box program and recommend possible options for program enhancement. The CIF is undertaking the project at the request of the Municipality. Documents Final Report: Blue Box Recycling Program Best Practices Assessment Appendices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Recycling Program Evaluation
CIF is managing a project to review the current blue box program and recommend possible options for program enhancement. The CIF is undertaking the project at the request of the Township. Documents Final Report: Blue Box Recycling Program Best Practices Assessment Appendices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Recycling Program Evaluation
CIF is managing a project to review the current blue box program and recommend possible options for program enhancement. The CIF is undertaking the project at the request of the Municipality. Documents Final Report: Recycling Program and Facilities Evaluation Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Pilot Promotion and Education project (3 sites to test). Development of a web portal for the promotion of the recycling program. Web site includes a waste exchange element as well as program information. Usage of the website will be monitored to determine the effectiveness of the tool. Documents Website: http://www.wellington.reuses.com/ Blog Post Related Projects Categories
MRF Upgrade – Container Baler System
This project involved replacing Northumberland’s existing container baler which has been in operation since 1991. The new baler is expected to save Northumberland approximately $70K/year in reduced maintenance, labour and transportation costs while eliminating a production pinch point in the facility. This project is part of an ongoing effort to modernize this facility and reduce its operating costs. Documents Final […]
CIF REOI Uptake Survey
Genivar Consultants LP retained to conduct a brief telephone survey following the release of the “Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) CIF Funding for Priority Projects” on February 1, 2010. The purpose of the survey was to assess the degree of success in informing municipalities of this latest funding mechanism and to determine preliminary uptake […]
Mobile Education Unit
This project involves the design and development of an innovative mobile education unit for use by County staff at schools and public events. Its purpose is to educate residents about the County’s waste diversion programs. The unit is expected to have a reach of over 40,000 residents annually and with a potential diversion rate of over 200 additional tonnes annually. […]
School Recycling Program
This project involves implementation of a school recycling program in cooperation with the County’s local school boards. The new program will be consistent with the County’s blue box program and will promote the correct way to recycle within the County. The new program is expected to divert approximately 500 tonnes/yr of recyclables and reduce curbside contamination. Approximately $85,000 in funding, representing […]
Curbside Automated Cart Collection
This project involves the conversion of Guelph’s bag based collection to a three stream bi-weekly blue box auto cart system at an estimated project cost of almost $11.6 million. CIF funding of approximately $1.3 million or 49% of eligible blue box related costs has been approved. Anticipated savings on the blue box related proportion of the system costs is expected […]
Implement Multi-Residential Best Practices
The Town of Perth has 22 multi-res buildings. As part of the transitioning to a two-stream program, Perth will implement multi-res best practices including: complete site visits, update database, increase recycling cart capacity, develop and deliver new P&E materials. Documents Final Report: Multi-Residential Recycling: Implementing Best Practices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Blue Box Program Communications Relaunch
EWSWA will be re-launching its P&E efforts with the goal to increase blue box capture rates by 10% over a 2 year period. The relaunch will include redesigned P&E materials, the development of an updated website including the use of social media and marketing tools, upgrading and developing school curriculum materials and ongoing monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of the […]
Ameresco Canada Inc. has been selected from one of three CIF pre-approved ESCO auditors to complete an energy efficiency study of the Ottawa Valley Waste Recovery Centre. The study will endeavour to identify opportunities for energy savings in the operation of the facility. Documents Final Report: Energy Assessment Report Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Maximizing Residential Waste Diversion – Phase 2
The current project is the second phase of an earlier project that formulated a menu of strategies designed to increase recycling in multi-res buildings. In Phase 2, the strategies will be tested in pilot buildings. Strategies range from training for building staff to recycling incentives for residents and staff. Documents Final Report: Tower Renewal Waste Diversion Phase 2 Blog […]
Large Yellow Box Distribution & Promotion for New Materials
For the distribution of a 24 gallon yellow recycling container to provide additional capacity for the expanded collection of #1-7 plastics in the Town’s recycling program. There will be an associated P&E campaign to promote the changes to the program along with the distribution of the boxes. Documents Final Report: Large Yellow Box Distribution and Promotion Blog Post Related […]
MRF Preventative Maintenance Audit
This project involved completing a due diligence audit of the Durham mrf to confirm that the current contract operator has been performing adequate preventative maintenance on the facility and to assess the current level for routine wear and tear that has been incurred since start up. The total cost of the project was $5000 and was funded by the CIF […]
Stationary Box Recycling Collection
The implementation of a signal indicator system for collection in stationary curbside holding boxes to increase efficiencies. The boxes protect materials set out for collection but require the driver to stop and check. By implementing an indicator system for the boxes, the driver will not have to stop and check each box thereby increasing efficiencies. Documents Final Report: Waste […]
Field Trial of Hydrogen Injection System in Recycling Trucks
Field trial of equipment from Innovative Hydrogen Solutions on three Turtle Island recycling trucks in York Region and two Plein Disposal recycling trucks in Waterloo Region to test fuel and maintenance improvements and cost savings. Documents Final Report: Recycling Trucks Equipped with i-phi Hydrogen Generating Technology Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Implementing On-Truck RFID Tracking for Collection
Install RFID readers on the automated curbside collection vehicles to track the recycling container information in the new collection program. Documents Final Report: Implementing On-Truck RFID Tracking for Collection Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Scope Development for a Provincial School Blue Box Curriculum
Development of a scope of work in anticipation of the release of an RFP to develop a standardized blue box oriented curriculum for the provincial education system. Documents RFP: School Curriculum for Municipal Blue Box Education Program Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Implement MRes Best Practices
The City of North Bay has 250 multi-res buildings. North Bay will implement multi-res best practices including: complete site visits, update database, increase recycling cart capacity, develop and deliver new P&E materials. Documents Final Report: Multi-residential Recycling: Implementing Best Practices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Multi-residential Cart Purchase
The Town of Smith Falls will purchase 98 – 360 litre carts for use in Multi-res buildings to coincide with expansion of collection of new material (plastics 3-7) roll out in 2011. Carts were purchased co-operatively with neighbouring municipalities and through the CIF cart tender to decrease program cost. Documents Final Report: Multi-Residential Recycling Blog Post Related Projects Categories […]
Municipal Program Support
Earth’s Edge Inc. retained to investigate municipal blue box programs in Eastern Ontario in order to provide support to those communities in an effort to coordinate a joint tender or establish best practices and to meet with the proprietor of Beauman Waste Management operations to update the CIF on its current status. Documents Project Synopsis […]
Eastern Ontario System Research & Analysis
In 2011, the CIF hired Earth’s Edge Inc. to compile data on the municipal and private sector waste system infrastructure in Eastern Ontario to aid it in making informed decisions on potential capital investments and other funding requests from local municipalities. This followed the work Earth’s Edge completed under Project #334 earlier in the year, […]
Coordination of School Curriculum Development Initiative
In 2011, the CIF contracted Trow Associates to coordinate a Blue Box school curriculum working group on behalf of the CIF. Tasks included coordinating meetings, developing agendas, tracking minutes and interviewing stakeholders. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Report Template for Small Capital Projects
A number of smaller municipalities have requested guidance in the completion of the required final report for their CIF projects. Trow Associates was contracted to develop and test a sample report applicable to small capital projects. Documents Template: CIF Short Form Report Template Template: CIF Final Report Template Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Blue Box Promotions
North Bay is taking advantage of the 20th year celebrations of its blue box program to promote and reinforce the program through a series of radio ads and other activities consistent with its communications plan. Documents Final Report: North Bay’s Blue Box Education and Promotion Project Blog Post Related Projects Categories
CIF Application Support: York Region
In 2011, the CIF hired HDR Inc. to assist the Regional Municipality of York (York) with completing funding applications for two projects, including expansion of the Garfield Wright MRF tip floor and upgrades to the Georgina Transfer Station. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Promotion of Expanded Recycling Program & Distribution of Large Curbside Containers
Norfolk County is expanding the types of material collected in its blue box system to include thermoform plastic containers. CIF is supporting Norfolk with the purchase and distribution of the blue boxes as well as new promotion and education material. Documents Final Report: Promotion of Expanded Recycling Program & Distribution of Large Curbside Containers Blog […]
REOI Submission Review
In 2011, the CIF hired Earth’s Edge (now Redi Recycling) to review an REOI submission from the Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (BLR or Township). The work included reviewing the application with BLR, performing a site visit, completing CIF documentation and recommending next steps for the REOI request by BLR. Documents Project Synopsis Blog […]
Train the Trainer Workshop for Multi-Residential Stakeholders
This project will address the need to develop recycling training for Multi-res superintendents, property managers and building owners. Part 1) Development of a recyclers training workshop for MR stakeholders and, Part B) development & delivery of a train-the-trainer workshop to municipal staff. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Categories
MRF Lighting Retrofit
Ottawa Valley completed an ESCO audit of their facility in 2010. The audit demonstrated that the plant was working efficiently but could achieve savings of over $5,000/yr through a lighting upgrade. Total cost of the project is expected to be approx $20k with CIF contributing up to 47% or $9,500. Documents Final Report: MRF Lighting […]
MRF Operations Assessment
Assessment conducted of EWSWA’s existing container MRF operations to determine how best to add mixed plastics to their curbside recycling program as well as make recommendations on how to reduce residue and increase capture of existing materials. Documents Final Report: EWSWA Container MRF Review Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Bancroft 2011 REOI Submission Review
In 2011, the CIF hired Earth’s Edge (now Redi Recycling) to review an REOI submission for the Town of Bancroft (Bancroft). The work included reviewing the application with Bancroft, performing a site visit, completing CIF documentation and recommending next steps for the REOI request. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Killaloe, Hagarty & Richards 2011 REOI Submission Review
In 2011, the CIF hired Earth’s Edge (now Redi Recycling) to review an REOI submission for the Township of Killaloe, Hagarty & Richards (KHR) involving a proposal to implement a public space Blue Box recycling program. The work included reviewing the application with KHR, performing a site visit, completing CIF documentation and recommending next steps […]
Ontario Blue Box Current State Fibre Study
With the recent loss of domestic ONP recycling markets, a review of the current state of the fibre markets was conducted in cooperation with Stewardship Ontario to determine if municipalities and their programs would be potentially compromised both financially and operationally. This piece of work is expected to be the first of a two phase […]
Large Curbside Containers and Promotion & Education Campaign
Support for the purchase and distribution of the large sized curbside containers coincide with an expansion to the Towns blue box program. Also there will be a P&E campaign to promote the program change and inform residents of the new materials in the program. Documents Final Report: Supply & Distribution of 22 Gallon Blue Boxes, […]
Eastern Ontario Regional Diversion System Modelling Study
In 2011, the CIF hired AECOM to provide an analysis of an optimum diversion network for Eastern Ontario. The study was to incorporate program tonnages, costs and flows among public and private sector MRFs and to consider the impacts of re-purposing, closing or expanding existing facilities, as well as development of a new regional facility. […]
MRF Risk Analysis and Business Plan
In 2011, the City of Kingston hired AECOM to develop a risk analysis and business plan for a regional MRF. This work followed the completion of CIF Project #367, entitled “Eastern Ontario Regional Diversion System Modelling Study” whereby AECOM was hired by the CIF to provide an analysis of an optimum diversion network for Eastern […]
Multi-Residential Best Practices
Wellington County has 105 multi-res buildings. Wellington County will implement multi-res best practices including: complete site visits, update database, increase recycling cart capacity, develop and deliver new P&E materials. Documents Final Report: Multi-residential Recycling: Implementing Best Practices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Transfer Station Transportation Logistics Analysis
This project involves modeling of standard hauling and transfer metrics to Brantford’s proposed transfer station application to determine what, if any, efficiencies can be gained over their current direct hauling option using various TS set ups. An upset limit of $1040 was established for this phase of the project. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related […]
P&E Campaign for Expanded Materials
Provide funding to develop P&E materials to support the addition of new plastic packaging to the blue box program. The additional materials are added as a result of utilizing the new London MRF for processing. The materials developed will be transferable to other programs using the London MRF. Documents Final Report: Promotion and Education Support […]
Promotion and Education Campaign
The City of Ottawa will launch a multi-media campaign which includes the use of print, social media, online ads and electronic bill boards to improve resident knowledge of what can and can not be recycled. The objective will be to increase the capture of targeted materials such as aluminum and paper and decrease residual rates. […]
Promotion & Education Initiatives
Funding support for some new P&E initiatives for the City of Woodstock to promote its recycling program. The initiatives include signage for the collection vehicles, radio advertising and multi-residential materials. Documents Final Report: P&E Plan Implementation Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Mixed Plastics Promotion & Education Campaign
Promotion and Education campaign to increase the capture rate of mixed plastics, with particular focus on PET, in the participating municipalities of Kawartha Lakes, City of Peterborough, Peterborough County and County of Northumberland. This project will also determine the effectiveness of a multi-municipal P&E campaign in order to establish a best practice approach that can […]
Mixed Plastics P&E Campaign
Support, up to $26,000, to the Region for a short term targeted P&E campaign for enhancing recovery of mixed plastics in the Region’s blue box program. The anticipated result is a 20% increase in capture of mixed plastics. Documents Final Report: York Mixed Plastics P&E Campaign Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Transfer Station Scale Upgrades
The City is undertaking an upgrade to the scale system at its transfer facility to automate the collection of weigh scale data. The system will eliminate the need to manually record and input the weigh scale data from the recycling trucks. Documents Final Report: Scale Automation Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Rose Technology has been selected from CIF pre-approved ESCO auditors to complete an energy efficiency study of the City of Hamilton’s materials recycling facility. The study will endeavour to identify opportunities for energy savings in the operation of the facility. Documents Final Report: Energy Savings Assessment Blog Post Related Projects Project #427 Categories
Hamilton MRF Energy Efficiency Upgrades
The City of Hamilton recently completed an energy savings review of its MRF operation (project 347) and plan to act on the recommendations of the study. The proposed retrofits will cost over $500,000 after funding incentives from other agencies are considered. The City is implementing a portion of the recommendation at a cost of approximately […]
Study of the Optimization of the Blue Box Material Processing System in Ontario
StewardEdge Inc. was retained to undertake a study to determine an optimized transfer and MRF infrastructure for Ontario. Documents Volume 1: Executive Summary Volume 2: Methodology & Model Volume 3: Cost Modeling Volume 4: Eastern Ontario Volume 5: Central Ontario & GTA Volume 6: Southwestern Ontario Volume 7: Northern Ontario Volume 8: Transition Plans & […]
The CIF hired The Emerald Group for support on developing project applications for the City of Temiskaming Shores (Project #436) and the City of Kenora (Project #413), as well as editing various other project reports. Documents Project Synopsis Blog Post Related Projects Project #413 Categories
Peel Region MRF Upgrades
MRF upgrade to accommodate the introduction of Mixed Rigid Plastics and additional tonnage. The upgrade will significantly reduce residual rates while allowing the opportunity to harmonize the GTA Blue Box programs. Documents Final Report: Material Recovery Facility Upgrades Blog Post Related Projects Categories
Facilitation of EPR Discussions
CIF is co-funding a series of facilitated discussions between AMO, Toronto and SO. The purpose of the sessions is to allow both parties to explore issues of common interest related to operation and development of Ontario’s blue box program. The total cost is under $50k and the CIF’s contribution is up to $25K. Confidential negotiation. […]
Geographical Optimization Project Modeling
The 2013 REOI process contemplates releasing approximately $9 million to municipalities interested in either implementing the results of the MIPC Provincial Infrastructure Study or similar cost saving initiatives. The CIF Committee at its Oct 30th, 2012 meeting directed staff to contract with RSS to provide support services to interested municipalities to evaluate their options under […]
System Optimization Strategy Work Plan
In December of 2012 the WDO board passed a series of resolutions, several of which affected the CIF, including direction that “MIPC develop a proposal on how to implement the efficiency improvements over the next five years as identified by the MIPC Optimization Study and to submit their plans to WDO no later than June 1, […]
North Western Ontario Project Support
In 2014, the CIF was directed by MIPC to focus efforts on regionalization projects. The CIF retained the services of Rick Denyes to assist the municipalities of Terrace Bay, Schreiber Bay, Thunder Bay, Marathon and the group in the Wawa area to determine if a suitable waste shed related collection and processing system could be […]
Project Savings Audit
In 2014, the CIF hired Clayton Sampson to complete a review and document reported financial impacts on a subset of completed CIF funded projects. The purpose of the review was to verify whether actual project outcomes were consistent with the benefits initially identified in the project applications. The projects were to be reviewed for numerical […]
Efficient operations at the Armour Township MRF, located in the village of Burk’s Falls, was hampered by ongoing and increasingly expensive repairs to their skid steer and baler. The CIF has provided $12,000 or 25% of the funds required to replace the aged equipment to allow the Township to minimize their operating costs. A payback […]
Implement MRes Best Practices
City of Greater Sudbury has 400 multi-res buildings. Sudbury will implement best practices including: complete site visits, update database, increase recycling cart capacity, develop and deliver new P&E materials. Documents Final Report: Multi-residential Recycling: Implementing Best Practices Blog Post Related Projects Categories
MRF Weigh Scale
The Township of Strong has no weigh scales at its landfill or mrf. Purchase of a portable weigh scale will allow Township staff to confirm outgoing bale weights and revenue reimbursements from their broker. The CIF contributed 49% or $1,159 to this project. Documents Final Report: Recycling Innovations: Transfer Station Upgrade Blog Post Related Projects Project #581.11 Categories […]
Transfer Facility Upgrades
This application involves the installation of a portable conveyor and overhead magnetic separator to allow Strong Township to separate their ferrous and aluminum streams and secure improved market pricing. The project also includes expansion of the current Coverall style building to aid traffic flow of residents and operations and supporting funding to improve signage and customer P&E. The CIF has provided […]
Open Space Recycling
Killaloe Haggarty and Richards has been advancing their overall diversion program. This project focuses on installation of six open space recycling containers to increase the blue box program exposure and increase their collected materials. Total project costs are $12,000 with CIF contributing 42% of costs. Documents Final Report: Public Space Recycling Blog Post Related Projects […]
North Bay MRF Container Line
North Bay has been upgrading their existing MRF. This project focuses on installation of a new container line and expansion of their collected materials to include 3-7 plastics. Total project costs are $235,000 with CIF contributing 41% of costs. Documents Final Report: City of North Bay Container Sorting Line Blog Post Related Projects Categories […]
MRF Preventative Maintenance Audit
This project involved completing a due diligence audit of the Waterloo MRF to confirm that the current contract operator has been performing adequate preventative maintenance on the facility and to assess the current level for routine wear and tear that has been incurred since the retrofit. The total cost of the project was $5,000 and […]
Budget Priorities for WRPs and RFP Support
In 2012, WDO (now RPRA) directed the CIF to take action to improve municipal compliance with the identified best practices found in the WDO Datacall at the time. The CIF needed to develop a plan to allocate $100,000 in support of municipal efforts to develop Waste Recycling Plans (WRP) and standardized Request for Proposals (RFP) […]
Learn more about the benefits, features and operation of compactors below.
Compactors are being used increasingly by rural and/or northern communities as an effective means to save money on transportation costs to haul recyclables to a processing facility. One of the key benefits of a compactor is the reduction in bin movements for recyclables compared with conventional roll-off bins. Since compactors enable bins to hold more weight, communities can reduce the number of bins hauled and the number of bins owned/maintained, resulting in lower costs and program savings. The table below examines annual data from municipalities with compactors. In some cases, the data has been extrapolated to a 12 month period.
Change in the Number of Lifts Before and After Compactor Installation
|# of lifts
|# of lifts
pre-lifts to post-lifts
|Muskoka (phase 1)||49||14||71%||3.49:1|
|Muskoka (phase 2)||14||4||71%||3.42:1|
|Muskoka (phase 1)||36||10||73%||3.67:1|
|Muskoka (phase 2)||27||6||77%||4.32:1|
The municipalities above experienced significant reductions in the number of lifts required to transport recyclables ranging from 71% to 86% producing annual program cost savings. In the District of Muskoka prior to installing compactors, the transfer stations/depots used 40 yd3 roll-off bins. The un-compacted bins only held an average of 1.28 tonnes of containers and 1.35 tonnes of mixed papers.
One of the key benefits associated with a compactor is the reduction in haulage requirements and the staff time and resources required to manage bins containing loose recyclables. Compactors help to improve operations at a transfer station or depot by:
Reducing the number of trucks accessing the site
Compaction reduces the number of heavy transport trucks accessing the transfer station/depot on a regular basis and the associated diverting of staff away from their intended job to direct site traffic and help the public.
“The transfer station is not interrupted by WSI trucks removing roll-off bins at a high frequency or when the bins are inconsistently filled. We have definitely saved money due to the fewer trips for both fibres and containers” — staff at the Township of McKeller.
Freeing up space
Large bins can take up a lot of space on site if more than a couple are required to meet storage demands for recyclable materials. A compactor can reduce the number of bins taking up space at a transfer station/depot by a factor of 4 or more. Some municipalities reported up to 20 additional bins on a site prior to the installation of compactors. In Peterborough County, prior to the installation of a compactor, one depot site had 14 fibre bins and 11 container bins with shipping of both materials occurring weekly, year round. A second depot had 10 fibre bins and 10 container bins with weekly shipping from November to March and twice a week from April to October.
Reducing time to manage bins
In most situations, the staff time required to manage un-compacted storage bins and clean up blowing litter from the open tops, reduced the staff time available to help the public and perform other necessary staff duties. Carling Township experienced labour reductions due to the fact that there is no need to make room in the side loading bins which required the attendants to keep pushing material to the back of the bin.
Compactors eliminate exposure of recyclables to inclement weather that may impact the quality and thus, revenues received. Some communities report noticeably less contamination in the recyclables after compactor installation, primarily due to more rigorous monitoring of compactor users by the attendants. Following installation of compactors in Muskoka, staff saw a reduction in contamination to just under 4%. The reduced contamination was attributed to three changes:
- the compactors dedicated to recyclables were physically moved to a different location away from the garbage bins
- users are now receiving better instructions as attendants have more time
- recyclables were no longer placed in open top 40 yd3 bins, which could be incorrectly used for garbage, and have a “once there is some garbage visible, then others follow suit” effect.
Improving health and safety
The increased space on site created by the removal of extra bins can translate to reduced traffic congestion and potential safety issues associated with maneuvering heavy vehicles in tighter spaces. Limiting the use of bins with loose materials reduces opportunities for worker injury resulting from the need to manually compress the recyclables and clean litter.
“Safety is big and when open bins got full, then attendants needed to get a back hoe to try to compact the load. It was only a matter of time before the back hoe would hurt someone or a vehicle. Now there is no need for the backhoe – Best thing the municipality every did.” — Municipality of McDougall
Improving site cleanliness
Open top bins can generate windblown loose material around the site or piling up around the bins. Compactors eliminate the exposure of materials to wind and elements.
The ability to store more material in the same volume containers, thereby reducing the need for haulage and associated costs, is the primary advantage of compactors. Compared to loose 40 yd3 bins, properly installed compactors can double or triple net weights as shown in the table below.
Pre and Post Compaction Rates for 40 cubic yard Bins
|Difference (tonnes)||% Increase|
|Muskoka (phase 1)||1.4||3.9||2.5||274%|
|Muskoka (phase 2)||1.2||3.3||2.1||269%|
|Muskoka (phase 1)||2.9||5.1||2.2||174%|
|Muskoka (phase 2)||1.3||4.4||3.1||342%|
Among the sampled municipalities, compactors increased the weight of mixed containers per load by almost 2.75 times and mixed paper by 2.6 times. This results in almost three times fewer loads shipped, compared with un-compacted bins. In Sioux Narrows, recycling increased from 16.5 tonnes in 2014 to 17.2 tonnes in 2016, while the number of lifts decreased from 42 lifts in 2014 to just six lifts in 2016. Prior to the installation of the compactors in Carling Township, the two transfer stations were serviced by three 40 yd3 side loading recycling containers which when full attained only 20 to 30% capacity due to the blocking of side openings.
Compactors have resulted in significant costs savings among the sampled municipalities. The savings come from the reduction in number of trips required and associated fuel/labour charges.
Change in Annual Haul Costs
|Cost savings ($)||Cost savings (%)|
|Sioux Narrows Twp.||$41,681||$11,460||$30,221||73%|
Compactors have resulted in cost savings ranging from almost 50% to over 75% from lift reductions alone. The average payback for four of the sampled municipalities was 4.4 years. In Peterborough County, the compactor bin saves approximately $5,000 in transport fees per year. After 6 years of service, the total savings was roughly $30,000. McDougall Township reduced number of lifts per month from 4 to 1, and reduced their fuel surcharge by 75%.
Carling Township has averaged 60% hauling cost savings over the past six years compared with pre-compactor hauling costs.
Average since 2011: $27,610
Average savings/year: $42,162
Compactors are typically powered using 240v three phase electrical power (hydro), but for those municipalities with transfer stations/depots located in remote locations, accessing mains hydro may not be feasible. In this situation, municipalities often operate compactors using solar power augmented by generator power. The compactor is powered by a bank of batteries that are charged using solar panels and topped up as needed with a generator. Compactors cycle via an electrically-powered hydraulic pump driving a cylinder piston mechanism. Pumps running onsolar/battery power cycle more slowly than those on generator or mains electrical power. A compactor operating strictly on batteries can take up to five minutes to cycle, whereas a compactor on mains hydro power can take about a minute.
Peterborough County opted for solar power with electrical back up due to the varying electrical capacities at the transfer stations. It purchased the RJ 225 Ramjet Stationary and equipped it with the solar kit. In McKeller Township, “the solar system is not as efficient as one is lead to believe; it takes a while to re-charge the batteries once the compactor has gone through a cycle. The solar system works if the depot is not too busy. We just got garbage compactors and didn’t go with solar – went with powered as you get a stronger compaction with hydro power”. At the Municipality of McDougall, solar power was chosen over electric and fossil fuels for its positive environmental impact.
At one site in Muskoka, which has no access to mains electrical power, a small solar power system was used originally to supply the scale-house electrical needs which was upgraded to accommodate the compactor. In order to install the compactors, the system was upgraded from 120 Volt to 240 Volt output and an additional solar array was added. The compactors can operate on a less powerful motor on sites which have solar only. These compactor units use a 5hp. hydraulic motor instead of the 10hp. motors supplied for the sites with grid powered compactors. Cycle time is slower on less powerful units.
Solar and Backup Power Supply
Solar powered compactors usually require some type of backup power supply to supplement the batteries when solar input and/or temperatures are low (e.g. winter months in Ontario). Typically, this comes in one of three forms: connection to the hydro grid; a permanent attached generator or a portable generator taken to the site as required. The table below compares municipal power solutions:
|Municipality||# Compactors||Power Supply|
|Muskoka District (phase 1)||2||x||x|
|Muskoka District (phase 2)||2||x||x|
|Sioux Narrows Township||2||x||x|
Peterborough County – The solar option, although environmentally friendly, has a longer cycle time especially during the cold winter months. It is recommended to go with electric or gas generator depending on the location.
Carling Township – The solar system was not charging the batteries due to lack of sun; therefore, the Township had to purchase the generators and ultimately replaced the original generator with a more powerful 12 kilowatt generator. When the computer senses that the batteries are too low, it starts up the generator to recharge batteries. The batteries are never allowed to go below half power. The compactors can be cycled 4 times without needing to recharge the batteries.
McKeller – Solar compactors don’t work all the time – need to use hydro – using hydro more than expected, in the winter months.
Seguin Township installed timers on the oil heater controls to turn on power only during the low cost, off peak hours and insulated the oil tanks. The timers worked as planned so that the compactors cycled during off peak hours.
Municipalities typically choose between two types of solar power installations:
- A simpler solar kit used to start the motor of the generator but does not operate the compactor directly
- A more robust solar installation used to operate the compactor and power the ram directly. This system requires more solar panel arrays and larger batteries to provide adequate power for the compactors.
Sioux Narrows Township – The compaction units have gasoline engines to supply the hydraulic power to cycle the ram and compact recycling materials. The compaction units also came equipped with solar backup kits, which are meant to provide the energy to prime and start the engines; as opposed to using a pull cord to fire up the engine.
Muskoka – Uses solar panels to provide power for the compactor as well as the scale house and lighting at its depot. While the solar panels charge the batteries in the summer, generators are needed to charge the batteries every day in the winter and a few times per week in the fall.
Some municipalities have configured larger centralized solar panel arrays and batteries to power more than one compactor. In this configuration, the compactors only run one at a time. Advantages of this type of configuration is that the batteries can be housed in one central heated storage unit and maintenance/cleaning of the panels becomes easier. Also, the panels can be situated in the optimum location on the site with respect to collection of solar energy, rather than attached directly to the compaction units.
Carling Township – Initially, the two compactors at its site operated independently using separate solar and hydraulic control panels, resulting in the compactors cycling too often during the summer months. The Township worked with the compactor company to combine the two solar panels into one unit feeding a single control panel and connected to 10 batteries. When cycling is required, a master switch transfers power to one compactor thus supplying it with the full power of the solar charge. When the batteries drop to a certain voltage the generator will start automatically and charge the batteries.
Hydraulic pumps can be driven directly by gas/diesel engines or as part of a permanent generator installation as an alternative to solar power. Cold temperatures significantly affect hydraulic fluid performance and battery capacity so most solar installations require some fluid tank heat, low temperature hydraulic fluid and line insulation to function efficiently and avoid excessive user wait times in winter.
In Seguin Township, “heaters were installed for the oil tanks, so that the hydraulic oil is a consistent viscosity. If the temperature is -30C, the oil will be thick and the hydraulic pump will use more power and could blow fuses. We use 32 weight 100% Green oil (no environmental toxicity) in all our waste fleet and equipment. Some may use automatic transmission fluid to mitigate the effects of cold oil, but we have chosen the heaters. Oil has high specific heat capacity, and will hold heat for a long time, especially if the oil reservoirs are insulated.”
McDougall Township reports, “when the compactor arrived it came with the wrong oil, which was too heavy (30W oil). We now use winter grade oil all year round, which is thinner than the usual oil (use better quality 5W synthetic oil). We get four times the life out of the oil, which is cheaper in the end”.
In general, most compactor models have a typical life span of twenty years and are similar in price range. The price of a single compactor from six sampled municipalities ranged from $29,700 to $35,000, with an average price of about $31,500 (includes delivery, installation and training). The price of dedicated 40 yd3 bins ranged from $4,500 to $8,500 each with an average price of about $7,700. In phase 2, Muskoka District realized “the actual costs of the project were 79% of the budget. The departure from budgeted costs was due primarily to competitive tendering for the supply of the compactors and bins and project management was in-sourced by Muskoka”.
Some compactors are designed to reduce overall site footprint in smaller depots. Below is the Marathon TC-300T TANK (foreground) compared to a standard 3 yd3 compactor (e.g. RJ 325 Ramjet) showing the difference in footprint.
All compactors experience longer than reported cycle times once they surpass 1/3 bin capacity as a secondary pump is activated to achieve the rated compaction ratio. Spillback into the charge hopper increases as the bin approaches full, which also increases cycle time.
Both solar and electric compactors are affected by winter temperatures, which tend to elongate the cold cycle times, since hydraulic fluid takes time to heat up. (Source: The Municipality of Dysart et al. Environment and Conservation Committee. Agenda. May 4, 2015, Haliburton, Ontario)
Also called a smart system compactor, a remote monitoring system senses the internal operations of the compactor and calls or texts the municipality when the compactor is full or if there is a mechanical problem.
How it works
Monitoring systems provide another means for operators of isolated sites to manage their equipment without having to be physically on location which theoretically saves staff time. These systems include a wireless modem that transmits data about the compactor to the operator. The monitoring system can collect information such as the number of times the compactor has run (e.g. number of ram cycles), the ram pressure and other variables. Data is sent to the operator who decides whether a collection is required, or directly to the hauling contractor and thus shipments may be scheduled without having to attend the site.
Video cameras can also be installed for additional real time information. The photos below show how cameras work for monitoring the installation either on or off-site.
Examples of programs using remote monitoring systems on compactors include:
- District of Muskoka
- Town of Bancroft
- Peterborough County
- Township of Algonquin Highlands
- Seguin Township
Some municipalities hire external companies to monitor the signals and send information back to the municipality. Monthly monitoring subscription fees apply (e.g. $25 per month, plus a one-time licensing fee of about $1,000).
Remote Monitor Benefits
Compactors typically come equipped with pressure sensors that provide the operator with an indication of the remaining capacity of the container. If available, on-site staff can routinely check to see if the compactor needs to be cycled and/or the container is full enough to require shipping. Many sites in Ontario are only staffed occasionally or entirely unstaffed. For these types of sites, automation and/or remote monitoring may be useful approaches.
Even staffed sites can benefit from the remote sensor system, allowing the attendant to spend more time on other duties especially if the compactor is located away from kiosks or the direct line of site from the normal staff working position.
The remote system can also advise when a problem exists with the equipment. For example, if an automated system is being used and something is blocking the optical sensors, staff are advised and can go to the site to fix the issue. This permits more efficient allocation of labour and avoids unnecessary travel costs (e.g. fuel, wear and tear on vehicle, staff time).
In Peterborough County, the bin capacity is monitored using a remote monitoring system reading the psi measured during the ramming operation. This information is emailed to County staff and the hauling contractor twice a day for monitoring purposes. When the bin is 70% full, a request is sent to the contractor to pick up the bin. Depending on the operating day and time, there could be a couple of days between this email and pick up. Operating at a fullness setting of 70% gives staff lots of time to schedule a pick up.
In Muskoka, the compactors have been fitted with level sensors whereby a light in the transfer station scale house illuminates when the compactor hopper is full. The smart system allows the site attendant to operate the compactors remotely and not have to physically attend the unit. With the remote operator station in the scale-house, site attendants can operate the units while remaining in the scale-house and continuing to offer services to residents.
Municipalities need to work with a trusted compactor supplier/consultant to ensure that they purchase the best compactor for their needs. Some questions to consider before purchasing a compactor include:
- Is a stationary compactor a cost effective solution for your program? Use the Compactor Savings Estimate Tool to see if your program can achieve a payback in under 5 years.
- What strength of compaction is required at the site, based on the type and quantity of recyclable material collected and MRF restrictions? What are some of the largest materials that the compactor will need to accommodate (e.g. cardboard boxes)?
- What type and size of collection bins can the compactor use? How many are required at the site, based on the recommended type and number of compactors, monthly tonnage received and return trip time to the MRF?
- What are the spacing and structural requirements for the compactor, collection bins and spare bins?
- What is the best configuration of bins and compactors, based on the existing and/or possible layout of the site and flow of traffic? Can the public and collection vehicles easily and safely access the compaction system?
- What are the power requirements for the compactor, based on the power configuration and availability at the site? What alternative power system is proposed to augment a solar powered system? Is a fossil fuel hydraulic pump preferable?
- Is front end loader service preferable/available in your area? If you have a curbside collection system can trucks/bins be modified for pickup at depots? (See “Knock Off the Roll Offs” and Project #858 )
- Is remote monitoring and automation required or can a low-tech system/procedure be set up on-site to monitor? How will you make sure that only full bins are hauled?
The following table provides a sample of compactors in use by Ontario municipalities including key features and cycle times.
RJ 225 Ramjet Stationary
RJ 225 VL Stationary Compactors
|2 yd3 capacity holding hopper||
Hydro or Solar
10 hp. motor
District of Muskoka
|RJ 225 Greenbilt Solar Powered Compactors||
Slower cycle time
2 yd3 capacity holding hopper
5 hp. motor
|Municipality of Whitestone|
|Marathon TC-220 Trash Commander Tank Stationary Compactors||
Uses 15% less space than other compactors of similar capacity
2 yd3 capacity holding hopper
Hydro or Solar
15 hp. motor
District of Muskoka
Sioux Narrows Twp.
|Marathon TC-300 compactors||
Shortest 3-cy. compactor in the industry
Uses 15% less space than other compactors of similar capacity.
3 yd3 capacity holding hopper
Used in applications where space is limited and a large clear-top opening is required
can be used with a generator or mains (not solar)
10 hp. motor
|RJ-275 Ramjet Stationary||2.5 yd3 capacity holding hopper||
Hydro or Solar
10 hp. motor
Installation, Operations and Maintenance
Careful planning of the location and set up of the compactor can minimize potential construction/operation challenges later. Some key set up considerations follow:
- Location. Compactors must be installed to optimize access by roll-off trucks, landscaping, snow removal, maintenance vehicles etc. Additionally, equipment should be installed to minimize interaction between residential and heavy vehicles and provide safe access and good ergonomics for users. Location within the site also affects the cost to run hydro lines, poles and lights.
- Site Grade. Compactors need a flat surface to eliminate possible sliding and tipping during high winds and bin movements.
- Concrete Pads. Concrete pads are required to support the weight of the compactor and should be at grade level on the user side to prevent creating a trip hazard.
- Railings. If the compactor is located below grade, railings may be required to guard against user falls.
- Power Supply. The compactor will need a power supply of sufficient capacity. For units connected directly to the hydro grid, a three phase 230v connection is preferred. A single phase connection is possible, but it will be more expensive to install and operate, as it is less efficient than three phase. If solar panels are used to generate power and the hydro grid is used as a supplemental power supply, then a single phase 120v connection should be adequate.
- Protecting the Control Panel and Batteries. It is important to isolate the control panel and batteries from inclement weather and residential users. Weather exposure can cause problems with control panels and low temperatures can reduce battery efficiency resulting in costly replacements. Providing an insulated and heated storage unit for the control panel and batteries is recommended.
Peterborough County – “Our electrical system has been problematic due to exposure to weather. Starter and other electrical control buttons stop working or send wrong information if they get wet. Electrical repair has been the greatest maintenance cost. These problems were resolved by installing a protective plastic box over the control panel to protect it. The box was installed by the electrician and purchased at an electrical supplier. These outdoor electrical boxes are common and easy to find.”
Providing good signage and education helps users feel comfortable placing their recyclables in the compactor hopper and reduces contamination. Attendants play an important role in educating users about the benefits of the compactor and how to safely place their materials into it. Taking the time to develop effective signage will not only boost participation in the recycling program but reduce contamination.
Peterborough County – “Educating the depot users about the benefits of the compactor is important e.g. fewer trucks on site, fewer bins on site, and therefore fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less stress on Township and County roads, less contamination in the recycling and the potential for everyone to save money”.
What Sign Works Best?
The University Health Network used its website to determine which of two signs were more effective by asking people to vote on their preferred signage for a mixed recycling program being tested at Princess Margaret Hospital. The summary of the poll was revealed as follows:
According to the poll, 81% of voters prefer Option B.
Why does B work?
The recyclable materials are grouped together, which makes it easier to read and understand at a glance. Common examples of the material categories are provided together rather than spread out on the page as in Option A.
What doesn’t work?
The organics section doesn’t stand out from the garbage section and is even encircled by the grey border used for the garbage. The organics section would stand out better if the background was green and it had a heading and icon similar to the mixed recycling and garbage. Placing the organics section at the top and giving it equal space as the garbage would better emphasize its importance.
For more information on developing effective signage, refer to the CIF Center of Excellence Promotion and Education section.
Attendants are a key part of any well-functioning depot and provide an added safety measure for all equipment. It is critical to have staff properly trained by the compactor supplier on how to safely use and maintain the equipment. A best practice is for municipalities to build this requirement into their tender. Training can also help the staff ensure optimal compaction of materials and to know when to schedule hauling.
Attendants and good simple signage can help ensure that the public understands how to access the compactor safely and place their recyclables in the hopper correctly. As an added safety measure, hopper doors should include a latch that keeps them open during operating hours, as opening the steel door may be difficult for some users, and can prevent doors from accidently swinging closed and/or hitting the user. A safety interlock prevents ram operation with any doors open. At McDougall and Carling Township, there is an attendant at the landfill who controls how the compactor hoppers are used by the public and where they can access them.
Seguin Township doesn’t allow the pressure gauge to go over 1800 psi. At 1700 psi, staff notify the hauler that they are getting close to needing a pick up. Staff can correlate the pressure reading on the compactor with weigh bills at the MRF and work with the MRF to determine an optimum pressure that maximizes compaction but still enables the MRF to process materials without over-compaction issues.
Encourage residents to break down oversize cardboard prior to depositing into the hopper to decrease wait times and extra compactor cycles.
Regular compactor, controls and bin maintenance should be considered part of normal operations and included in annual operating budgets. Some municipalities have opted to use in-house staff to provide basic maintenance including greasing and cleaning but bring in specialized companies to change oil and inspect the compactor controls, safety features and mechanical components. McDougall Township hires a company to come three times/year to do maintenance including, cleaning, checking the hydraulic pump and pressure gauge to ensure it’s effective and checking the timing on the cycles. As a result, the Township has never experienced a failure of the compactor. Seguin Township and Carling Township staff recommend regular preventative maintenance twice a year (spring and fall).