Baler Building Update

June 2024 Update

Our new Baler Building is essentially complete; short of roll-up doors (mid-month); and concrete work around the perimeter. Most recently, we completed construction of our loading dock, and it’s looking good. Meanwhile, we have been running the baler through tests, and experimenting with bale sizes.


May 2024 Update

Baler Is In The House!!

It’s been a long time coming, literally, but it’s here! The Maxpak HCE60FE9 horizontal baler has arrived. And after a dramatic day of installation involving four different companies and a significant array of heavy equipment, the 20+ ton machine is in place, and we made our first bale of cardboard! True to expectation, we dumped 11 of our cardboard totes in the baler to make one bale–so a roughly 10:1 reduction in volume. That will translate into a 10:1 reduction of trucks leaving the island! Full time operation is still a few weeks away, as the building itself is not quite complete. But be on the lookout for tour dates coming this summer!


April 2024 Update

The building is up, the electricians are in deep. We are upgrading the power to the whole site, in preparation for the baler equipment and one of the biggest solar arrays in the County. The Baler itself arrives the first week of May and we should be running tests all month. Soon we will also be scheduling site tours, and that will certainly include checking out the baler. See you soon!


March 2024 Update

During the first week of March Artus Construction directed a huge concrete pour, giving the Baler Building its 6-inch-thick concrete floor. “Super big milestone,” said Pete Moe, ORS director. “Once the concrete has cured, we can bring in our baler!” That should happen in mid-April. There is still much work to do, including building sidewalks, a loading dock, and myriad details. However it does appear that the project will finish in Q2, as recently predicted. (Photo: Lead Contractor Art Rojsza in front of the baler building.)


December 2023 Update

The baler facility will allow us to further reduce the inefficient mixed recycling stream by removing aluminum, cardboard, mixed paper and plastics. These materials, when co-mingled, have little value. But when they are separated and compacted into clean uncontaminated bales, they have value.

When we bale, we also dramatically increase the percentage of material that is actually recycled, and significantly decrease our carbon footprint by reducing the number of trucks hauling material back to the mainland.


November 2023 Update

Beams are erected; concrete is being poured. It’s pretty exciting that we are finally constructing the Baler building. Even more exciting, we are in the final design stages of a 93,000 kWh solar array! This array, one of the biggest on the island, will provide us almost double our annual power needs, with the rest feeding back into the OPALCO grid. Be on the lookout for our annual fundraising letter, which will politely ask that you consider supporting this effort with your end-of-year giving. Help The Exchange and Orcas Island get closer to carbon neutral!


October 2023 Update

Island Excavation broke ground on our new Baler Facility in early September and the site prep is now completed! They are providing all the site prep and stormwater work on the project. We recently funded a geotechnical study of our crushed glass-sand and it passed all kinds of Washington State tests for use in construction projects (let us know if you are interested in the study) so it’s been very exciting to see our crushed glass being used in the project.

Our new baler building starts going up mid-October and the baler machinery is expected to arrive at the end of the year.  We expect to be baling recyclables in Q1 2024 and can’t wait to start crushing stuff into cubes!