Best Practices for Using a Vertical Baler

When you produce valuable waste in the thousands of pounds per month, it can be cost effective to have one (or more) balers on site for collecting and compacting material before selling it to a recycling company. However, during our years in the industry, we’ve noticed there is little general knowledge about balers and how to use them as effectively as possible. To help educate our clients, we’ve created a list of best practices to follow when using most vertical balers.

Make Denser Bales

With bales, denser is better. While the weight of your bale will depending largely on the baler you use and the material you are baling, here are some ways to make sure you reach maximum density for every bale you produce:

  • When baling OCC and cardboard, do not breakdown boxes before baling. This will insure the boxes buckle around each other when compacted and will make for tighter bales.
  • Leave materials in your baler for as long as possible with the press head down prior to ejecting a bale. Many materials have a certain amount of shape memory, which causes them to return to their original form after compression. Keeping a constant pressure on your bale while adding materials will help fight this and allow you to add more material to your bales.
  • Continue loading materials in your baler until the machine automatically turns off and the press head remains down. This will insure you reach maximum capacity with every bale.
  • Check for and remove any material stuck in the grooves located at the bottom of the press head. This kind of excess debris might interfere with the function of the press head, possibly jamming the devise and interfering with its ability to produce as compact of a bale.


If your machine is not working properly, first check things like:

  • Are the ejection chains twisted? If so, your baler may be jamming.
  • Is the wheel turn buckle tight? If not, tighten it.
  • Is the emergency stop button pulled out? If not, your machine will remain in emergency mode and will not operate. Make sure this button is pulled out prior to use.

Often, a simple oversight is the reason behind baler malfunctions. We highly recommend referring to your owner’s manual for more specific operating instructions.

General Good Practices

  • You should always maintain a clear space around your baler so nothing obstructs operation. For instance, the back of your baler should be at least 2 feet from any structure (such as a wall) to allow space for you to tie off bales. You should also clear any obstructions from in front of your baler, allowing space for you to open the chamber door fully when ejecting a bale.
  • Check the oil. Like many machines, balers use hydraulic oil.  You should regularly check the oil level and make sure there are no oil leaks.
  • Inspect for loose, damaged, or missing parts. For instance, it’s good to check the bolts, ejector, chains, limit switches, welds, safety decals, and guards daily to insure everything is in working order.

Please Note: Since many of our clients use 60 inch, HD vertical balers, we’ve geared this best practices list toward that type of machine. However, balers come in many shapes and sizes, and operators should familiarize themselves with the owner’s manual for their specific product prior to use. Also, it’s important to wear proper personal protective gear when operating any baler type.

For your convenience, below we’ve included a printer-friendly training handout for operating our HD Vertical Balers. For more baling best practices, or to learn about the baler and baling wire options provided through Northstar Recycling, please feel free to contact us any time.