Chain Store Age Magazine, November 2003
Good things can come in small packages, especially when it comes to managing trash. An easy-to-use, manual system that converts large bags of trash into smaller bags of deflated or smashed trash has reduced waste-hauling expenses for such operators as McDonald's, KFC and Taco Bell.
The system, Pack-A-Drum, was originally developed for use in fastfood applications. But it is now making its way into retail settings, as well.
Benefits: In addition to decreasing hauling costs, the system has other benefits, including reducing the number of employee trips to the trash bin and improving sanitation.
"We just don't have as many runs out the back door," says Tony Roads, general manager of the McDonald's unit in Monroe, N.C. "It's not leaking, either."
Previously, the trash had to be hauled from the bin of the high-volume restaurant on a daily basis. But since the Pack-A-Drum was put in place, hauling has been reduced to twice a week, for a $325 monthly savings.
The device, which has an approximate 8-1 compaction ratio, is 100% manually operated. Through the turning of a large wheel, the trash is deflated in see-through bags. A platform cart is used to transfer the bags to a container, preventing fluid from spilling out on the floor as it carried to the bin.
"The Pack-A-Drum is not a compactor. It deflates the trash, as opposed to compressing it into a brick," explains Mark Wagner, VP of marketing, Pack-A-Drum Inc., Satellite Beach, Fla.
The deflated trash weighs less than 125 lbs. to to 150 lbs. per cubic yard. In contrast, Wagner explains, trash compacted in a hydraulic compactor weighs from 250 lbs. to 300 lbs. The weight difference is important since waste haulers’ rates are generally based on the weight by cubic yard of the trash.
"The rate factor for the compacted trash is higher due to its weight," Wagner says. End users can expect the volume of trash to be reduced 40% to 60% with the Pack-A-Drum, according to Wagner.
Since deflating the size of the trash reduces the volume in the dumpster, it also reduces the number of daily trash runs bye mployees. The runs, a common practice in food settings, are often used as an opportunity for a leisurely break by employees.
"Employees will ask for the trash run and sometimes it takes up to 15 minutes. We all know it doesn't take that long," says Wagner, a former Miami Subs Grill franchisee.
A typical quick-service restaurant has anywhere from six to 10 trash runs a day. By deflating the trash, that number can be reduced to two or three, resulting in improved employee productivity, fewer opportunities for slips-and-falls and fewer back-door openings.
The system reduces internal theft through its use of clear plastic liners. The see-through liners make it harder for employees to smuggle goods out with the trash.
The Pack-A-Drum device retails for approximately $3,500 to $3,800. The payback can vary according to the location's waste-hauling rates, but it typically is under one year, Wagner says.
The Pack-A-Drurn is intended for what the industry terms "low-density" trash. In a fast-food application, that includes beverage cups, napkins, sandwich containers and the like. In retail stores, the system can be used for bubble wrap, shrink wrap and other packing materials. It is not intended for boxes or pallets. "The system is ideal for retailers who bring in large quantities of goods packaged in bulk that have to be broken down for marketing or display at the store level," Wagner adds.
With its all-manual operation, PackA-Drum has been approved for use by minors. That's an important advantage, given the fact that a good number of retail and restaurant employees are still in high school.
"There have been no injuries from the use of the system," Wagner adds.