Bulb crusher helps recycling efforts

The state will ban plastic bottles, motor oil filters, and wooden pallets from landfills starting this October. The ban aims to fuel more recycling, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create more jobs.

On the local level, Haywood Builders Supply in Waynesville is promoting a bulb-crushing machine to area businesses to contribute to recycling efforts as well. The contraption, known as the Bulb Eater, crushes spent tube and U-shaped fluorescent lamps into 100 percent recyclable material, while capturing nearly all of the mercury vapors released. The crushed bulbs are picked up and recycled by local entities that handle hazardous materials.

“We don’t have to worry about it contaminating us, contaminating the landfill and our drinking water,” said Allen Newland of Haywood Builders.

Newland recalled the first time Haywood Builders put the Bulb Eater to the test. They had not known what to expect and were surprised when the entire bulb crushing process was over in what seemed like just half a second.

“When it pulled it and crushed it, the whole group jumped,” Newland said.

So far, Haywood Builders has made the machine available at no cost to Haywood Community College, Haywood County Schools, and Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Interested local businesses can see a demo and purchase the Bulb Eater at Haywood Builders.

While the $3,800 price tag may not be exactly affordable for some businesses, Newland said he believed it was a great investment for large industries or groups of smaller businesses.

Newland said Haywood Builders is already saving tons of money with the machine, which can hold up to 1,350 crushed four-foot bulbs. Whereas it had previously cost 47 cents to recycle each four-foot bulb, it now costs them only 17 cents per bulb.

Don Ebaugh, director of property management at Lake Junuluska Conference and Retreat Center, said he was definitely interested in the Bulb Eater after seeing it work.

“If we can’t buy one individually because of cost, we could probably join forces with other businesses,” he said.

Ebaugh said despite the budget crunch, he hoped the county would also buy the machine and make it available to the wider public.

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