Recycling Equipment Guide for Hospital

Recycling Equipment Guide for Hospital

Certain equipment can be very useful in managing collected recyclable plastics, depending on your recycler’s operations for transporting and processing plastics and other recyclable wastes. Equipment that should be considered includes a compacter, a baler, and additional dumpsters at the dock for dock-out processes, plus carts, bins, and totes for collecting and transferring materials from hospital functional areas to the dock. Many recyclers will provide equipment for material accumulation at your facility in exchange for a commitment that they will receive the recyclable materials from the hospital. Ask your recycler if this is a possibility.

In evaluating your equipment needs, talk to your recycling partner about which waste streams can be combined, which determines what equipment will be necessary and/or useful to your recycling program.


A compactor is a machine used to reduce the volume of waste materials through compaction for the purpose of improving transportation efficiency. It is usually powered by hydraulics, but can also be electrically powered. Hospital employees place materials into the compactor, and materials are held within the compactor until they are removed by the recycler. A compactor can be used for single stream or mixed recyclables.

When used for accumulation and transportation of mixed recyclables which include healthcare plastics, these materials will be comingled, requiring recyclers to separate the materials prior to recycling. If the materials are bagged separately, the bags may be ripped in the compaction process causing the materials to be comingled with other recyclables, again obligating the recycler to perform additional segregation prior to recycling. These factors should be considered and discussed with your recycler.


A baler is a machine used to compress materials into compact bales that are more efficient to transport and store. Bales may be bound with twine, strapping, netting, plastic strips or wire. Hospital employees place materials into the baler, remove the compacted bales from the baler, and place the bales aside until they are removed by the recycler. Balers are especially useful for consolidating lightweight plastics and plastic film and wrap.


Consider an additional dumpster (with or without a compactor) if additional storage capacity is needed to keep recyclables separated from other waste streams.

General Guidelines

Installing a baler and/or compactor is most viable if a facility can use the equipment for more than one process or material type. Consider the amount of recyclables to be collected in your hospital, the amount of space available in your hospital, and where items will be placed until pickup.

Talk to your recycler about preferred dock-out processes and pick-up schedules to determine if a compactor, baler, or additional dumpster will be critical or “nice-to-have” to manage recyclables in your hospital.