An innovative approach to compaction
Image provided by Champion Waste & Recycling Services

An innovative approach to compaction

With space at a premium, Champion Waste & Recycling took an innovative approach to meeting the compactor needs of two of its Texas-based commercial customers.

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November 12, 2019

Champion Waste & Recycling is a Dallas-based waste and recycling company that has served the Dallas-Forth Worth area since 2002. With a 60,000-square-foot material recovery facility (MRF) dedicated to commercial recycling and another facility specializing in construction & demolition recycling, Champion helps design custom recycling programs for its customers looking to divert cardboard, paper, commercial commingled, commercial single stream, construction single stream, and pre- and post-consumer organics from landfill.

As part of this initiative, Champion provides compactor installation services to help its commercial clients reduce waste and recycling volumes while simultaneously improving efficiency.

According to Paul Kuhar, vice president of Champion, although it might seem straightforward, outfitting clients with the right compactor often requires a deeper dive into the nuances of a site’s operations.

Compactor constrictions

The Embassy Suites by Hilton in Denton, Texas, is a LEED Gold certified property. Opened in 2018, the property is the first Embassy Suites by Hilton to achieve LEED Gold certification. As part of this process, the hotel was required to establish and maintain a comprehensive recycling program. With this in mind, the company came to Champion for help in procuring the right compactor for its needs. Despite being a new property, the operators quickly realized they were facing an uphill battle in managing their waste since the hotel had a loading dock space that could only fit two compactors, yet, they wanted to process three streams of material.

The situation at the Embassy Suites mirrored that of the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West in Plano, Texas. According to Kuhar, the hotel’s operators came to Champion in 2017 looking for the right compactor to maximize its diversion. However, like the Embassy Suites, the Renaissance didn’t have adequate space to install compactors for the materials they wanted to process.

“The Renaissance hotel wanted to create a recycling program that diverted as much material as possible; however, they only had one space to hold a compactor,” Kuhar says. “They started with a commingled recycling compactor and front-load containers for trash, but this was ineffective due to lack of dock space.”

To remedy the space constraint issues at the Embassy Suites and the Renaissance, Champion went to work trying to better understand the pain points at both locations in order to develop a solution that would meet each hotel’s unique needs.

“Both companies reached out to us because they wanted a company that could provide a custom program that was designed for their needs—they didn’t just want a cookie-cutter program,” Kuhar says. “At Champion, we take the approach to think big when it comes to customers’ challenges, but in order to do this, we start small and audit the material stream from the generation source. This includes the logistics of how the waste and recycling material is moved on-site and how it gets to the compactors. The most important component for both the Embassy Suites and the Renaissance that ultimately won us the business was being able to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for them in terms of designing the program, hauling the material and processing the materials.”

After auditing both programs, Kuhar identified a diverse waste stream that the hotels had to contend with that included commercial single-stream materials such as cardboard, plastic film, paper, water bottles and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), as well as organic materials including pre-consumer kitchen prep and post-consumer materials such as coffee grinds and compostable silverware. Additionally, glass recycling at the two facilities needed to be source separated to ensure the material was adequately captured and not lost through the compaction process.

Due to the diverse nature of the materials and the limited space to process these waste streams, Champion decided to stack compactors at both locations and built custom docks, ramps and hoppers to more easily manage materials. This approach had never been implemented in the Dallas-Fort Worth market before.   

“As we were building the Embassy Suites back in 2017, I started to run into several roadblocks when trying to set up a compost and recycling area at our back docks,” Jeff Pritts, general manager of Embassy Suites by Hilton Denton, says. “We were applying to become one of the very few LEED Gold hotels in the U.S., and this was a critical program that I needed to set up. The team at Champion Waste did a site tour and came up with a solution that even my creative mind could not. They said, ‘How about a two-tier system with recycling capacity on top and compost down below?’” 

Two Marathon compactors—the RJ-225 and RJ-250SC—were chosen for both the Embassy Suites and the Renaissance projects. According to Kuhar, Champion chose these compactors both for their ability to handle the volume and type of material that needed to be processed, but also for their durability. With the RJ-225 and RJ-250SC selected, Champion then went to work modifying the compactors’ length and height to fit in the allotted spaces at both sites. All of the modifications and fabrications were performed by the Champion team.

Processing it all

Thanks to the new compactors, Embassy Suites is now able to package and divert its commingled, organics and glass streams. Additionally, the data-capture capabilities of the compactors allow the operators to track and analyze various metrics to better manage and demonstrate their sustainability efforts. Today, the hotel processes an average of more than 25 tons of commingled materials and 15 tons of organic material per month, with an eye on continuing to expand its program.

“This is my 11th hotel in eight states that I’ve been with, and I had never seen this type of waste management strategy employed,” Pritts says. “A year and half later, we have composted 32 tons of food waste. That equates to a huge diversion footprint and truly helps me in my goal to become a zero-waste hotel.”

After the installation, Kuhar says The Renaissance was able to successfully meet its diversion goals with limited space thanks to the two-tier compactor configuration. This setup also helped create a safer working environment for the hotel staff and gave them the ability to capture and load recyclable materials more easily with the new loading dock design. Now, the hotel processes an average of more than 15 tons of recyclable material a year and is looking to expand with a new organics collection program by the end of 2019.

According to Kuhar, even though there may be similarities between the two businesses and the waste they process, an organization’s needs can vary greatly from location to location. That’s why taking a personal approach to devising each customer’s waste management plan is essential for ensuring a program’s success.

“The ability to envision the type of compactor design, draw it up for the customer and then make it come to life was something the customers never expected could be done, but we were glad to be able to help facilitate a better solution for both customers,” Kuhar says.  

The author is the editor for Waste Today magazine and can be contacted at aredling@gie.net