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Hydraulics is rubbish! ben lee

Bin day might not be the most exciting day of the week but it is a necessary event.  Generally speaking the refuse trucks will visit twice in the average week, once for the green landfill bin and once for the blue recycling or brown garden waste bins (colours and schedule may vary from district to district).  Many councils are halving landfill collections to save money and encourage more recycling – currently 60% of rubbish destined for landfill can be recycled, however, without some encouragement and education this figure is unlikely to change much.  Councils can make it easier to recycle and even if they themselves don’t have the facilities for the specialist recycling that can process plastic films, cartons and carrier bags, they could partner with other local authorities’ who do have.


The method of refuse collection can also benefit the environment by using biodiesel powered vehicles and replacing the PTO system which lifts the bins into the truck with an electrohydraulic system, powered by a 24-volt DC hydraulic motor.  This means that the truck engine can be shut off while collections are done, as the lifting mechanism does not rely on the engine running to provide power to the lift and tip apparatus.  It is also more fuel efficient than the standard PTO systems even if the engine is left running.


Larger refuse vehicles may require a bigger motor, but the smaller trucks, that do rural rounds and collections in remote villages, will be adequately served by a 24-volt DC hydraulic motor.  When the rubbish and recycling is taken away to be sorted and disposed of hydraulics come into the equation yet again.  Hydraulically powered compacters roll across the refuse in the vehicle to maximise the space available, ensuring each vehicle can collect the maximum amount of waste on each round.  Cardboard and some plastics destined for recycling are compacted in a bailer, which uses hydraulic pressure to raise or lower a platform against the top or the bottom of the equipment (bailer designs can vary – some compact from the top and others from underneath).  This also helps maximise the space needed to store the recyclable materials, so when they are transported from the sorting facility to the processing facility they take up as little space as possible, reducing overall fuel costs. 


These compacters and bailers can also be found at supermarkets and retail outlets that use a lot of cardboard packaging, as they help reduce the amount of space this material takes up on site before it is collected by a recycling company.  These models are smaller versions of the industrial sized ones found at sorting plants, and they can be powered by a small hydraulic motor – a 12-volt DC power pack is ideal for this equipment as it will exert enough force to squash cardboard without there being an excess of energy, which would go against the environmental reasons for using a compacter in the first place.


Using hydraulics to collect and package recycling and landfill waste helps the environment by using energy in the most efficient manner and by reducing the amount of space that this material takes up, both during collection and during sorting.  If we can recycle more we'll be heading in the right direction, and hydraulics will help us get there.  Hydraulics really is rubbish!

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