The C.S. Bell Co.

Equipment Spotlight

Can Recycling Equipment

CS Bell
CP Manufacturing
Haag Manufacturing
Master Magnets
Prodeva, Inc.
Taylor Machinery

In the world of recycling, the humble can rules the roost. Sixty-three percent of steel cans and 52 percent of aluminum cans are recycled each year, for a collective total of some 1.7 million pounds, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute. The reason is that used cans are valuable. Although beverage containers represent less than 20 percent of the materials collected in curbside recycling programs, they generate up to 70 percent of total scrap value. The most valuable commodity in curbside programs, helping to pay for the collection of other containers, is the aluminum can.

Extracting that value, however, does present recyclers with challenges. Aside from volatile commodity markets that control the value of the aluminum they produce, recyclers must cope with contaminants ranging from tin cans to two-by-fours, materials that may arrive in bags, boxes, bins or barrels and, most important of all, the low density of the original stream. The biggest problem with aluminum cans, said Bill Haag, owner of Haag Manufacturing in Otoe, Nebraska, “is they don’t weigh anything. You can fill a 40 foot semi-trailer with these and you wouldn’t have 3,000 lbs.”

The solution to this problem is to flatten the cans. Once flattened, aluminum cans take up a fraction of the space, and can be easily moved via conveyor or even blown with streams of air. “This makes it so it’s efficient to transport,” said Haag, whose company manufactures the Mighty Mite Can Densifier.

Haag Mfg.

Users of Haag’s Mighty Mite load up to 25 lbs. of aluminum cans into a magnetic sorting table which helps to remove ferrous contaminants. Then the cans are tilted into a hopper, which can hold up to 50 lbs. Then a gas or electric-powered hydraulic piston compresses them into 20 to 22-lb. bales. The stackable bales allow up to 1,500 lbs. of aluminum cans to fit on a single pallet.

Haag said the Mighty Mite, which can handle approximately 500 lbs. of cans per hour, is best suited for small- to medium-sized recycling businesses. “If you’re in a situation where you want to buy 500 lbs. or 1,000 lbs. of cans a day, that’s fine,” he said.

Steve Bunke, co-owner of Prodeva, Inc., in Jackson Center, Ohio, said that many smaller companies choose his company’s Model 500 Flattener Blower. This machine separates aluminum cans from steel and mixed-metal cans using an eight inch diameter magnetic head pulley, then crushes the aluminum cans and blows them into trailers, roll offs or other containers.

The Model 500 has a rated capacity of over 2,000 lbs. per hour and produces output with a density of up to 7 lbs. per cubic foot. Material comes in through an 8 inch diameter adjustable delivery tube that is 12 feet long. Dirt and moisture are removed with the help of an infeed hopper screen.

Bunke said that while they do have some Model 500s in larger recycling centers, they target mostly smaller ones. Among the product’s sales appeals is its design for easy maintenance. “Everything on our machine is easily accessible. Without tearing the machine down, you can replace anything on the machine,” Bunke said. “I’d say they’re very user friendly.”

C.S. Bell Company

At C.S. Bell Company in Tiffin, Ohio, Dan White, market operations, said they help to address challenges related to how material arrives at a recycling facility. “If it’s coming in loose, bagged, in barrels, in a self-dumping or self-tipping hopper, they have to manage their cans in more than one format,” he said. Because of that, many customers request that he modify their can-flattening and blowing machines to accommodate different forms of input.

C.S. Bell makes a Model CM-95P Can Crusher as well as a Model CS-305 Can Blower. Both can be used separately as standalone machines or combined. “They can be bought at the same time or, if budgets don’t permit, they can get a crusher and at a later time buy a blower and roll it underneath,” White said. “It’s a complementary piece of equipment.”

The CM-95P Can Crusher is rated at 1,000 lbs. per hour and employs a ¾ yard hopper and a magnetic separator and reject chute. It can be set to discharge into a standard container or feed into a CS-305 Aluminum Can Blower. The blower can process up to 3,000 lbs. per hour of empty whole or crushed cans. Height and angle of its blower discharge tube are adjustable. The blower can be oriented in-line or at a right angle to the crusher.

Taylor Machinery Corp.

Perceptions regarding the state of the industry depend on who is doing the talking. Haag and Bunke say sales have slowed since aluminum prices began falling. “Cans are typically around a dollar a pound when you sell them, and we’ve been paying 50 cents,” said Haag. “Now they are about 55 cents a pound and all you can pay for them is 40 cents. Business has taken a hard hit in the past couple of months.”

White said C.S. Bell has been working through a stack of back orders, however, and has seen little slowdown. “One of the big drives in the past 10 years has been to increase our foreign presence,” he added. “This past year we ended with foreign sales accounting for 40 percent of all sales. That continues to grow.”

Bunke reports a mixed bag. “We had a very good year last year, and then everything dried up in the last month or so,” he said. “But it’s starting to come back now.”