In previous posts, I have discussed the value of recycling in terms of cost savings. In the current golf economy, it is important to find new ways to increase your margin at a time when raising greens fees or dues may not be options. But what is a club to do when a reduction in expenses could sacrifice resources and quality?
There is a way to bring in a slight stream of revenue by making a small upfront investment. Some clubs have started using balers to compact their cardboard or plastic. The immediate benefits can be seen from saving space in dumpsters if you must throw your cardboard in a dumpster.
Kim Vandbaek, Executive Vice President of Mil-tek USA Recycling and Waste Solutions states that customers who have used his company’s balers have seen a reduction in pick-ups of 25-40%, depending on the customer’s waste profile. What’s more, there are many recyclers who will not only purchase the baled cardboard from you, they will come to your club and pick it up! And while the revenue seen from selling off your old boxes may not subsidize a brand new irrigation system for the golf course, it could ultimately pay for the baler itself.
Bob Mueller, General Manager of Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston, New Jersey, echoes these sentiments. When I spoke with Bob, he said over the past eight months that they have utilized the Mil-tek baler, they are happy with the results. While they do not sell the baled cardboard to a recycler, they do recycle it.
“We do not have as many pickups.” said Mueller, as the baled cardboard does not take up as much space in the dedicated cardboard dumpster. “We are trying to do the right thing (by recycling),” he continued. And because they do not have stray boxes lying around waiting to be broken down, having the baler “makes things cleaner than normal.”
Vandbaek elaborates by saying the reduced “eye-sore” of not having loose cardboard piled in a corner of the kitchen is an advantage that many clubs who have purchased the balers communicate. Furthermore, the reduction in man-hours by not having to break boxes down reaps its own rewards, allowing staff to be allocated to other tasks.
He goes on to discuss how his company works with the club during the entire set-up process. From agreeing on the optimum location for the baler at the club, to two stages of training with key staff, steps will be taken to improve the club’s chances at success.
It should be pointed out that Mil-tek does not get involved in the “money flow” between the customer and recycler. “All we do is to help get a fair price for the services/materials and then make the introduction between the parties. Housekeeping/processes will be arranged between the two parties without involvement from Mil-tek (unless requested). If for some reason the customer is not happy with the recycler we will appoint another partner.”
Another benefit to having a baler readily available at your club is that you are also able to bale plastic. While the baled plastic is generally not sellable at the limited volume your club would generate, it does help increase space in your plastics recycling container or, if you must, landfill dumpster.
The relatively small footprint of the baler does not take up a significant amount of space. At 8 feet high, 2 feet 5 inches wide, and 1 foot 9 inches deep, the machine will fit in most kitchens or maintenance barns. Furthermore, the size and weight of the bales make it easier for staff to move to the cardboard dumpster or pick-up area.
Whether or not your club is able to sell the baled cardboard is something that will have to be researched, but the value in having a baler at your club is apparent. Getting members and staff involved with the initiative will make all stakeholders at the club feel good about what they are doing, and encourage the initiative’s success. Furthermore, cutting long-term operating costs and simultaneously earning revenue will help create some much needed breathing room to your club's bottom line.
Travis Lesser is an Entrepreneurship Instructor at Penn State University, and is also the Owner and Founder of Spring Mill Solutions.