Big Machines of HQ: The Plastic Recycling Baler

Logo: Big Machines at Nugget HQ

When we announced our new HQ in Butner, North Carolina, the best word we had to describe our new space was BIG. And guess what? Using that space to create Nuggets requires some equally gigantic, ginormous, well —big — machines. In this series, we’re going behind-the-scenes to learn more about the Big Machines of Nugget HQ. Today’s feature: the plastic recycling baler. 

First of all, why do we need a plastic recycling baler?

When our foam arrives, it’s all wrapped in plastic to protect it from dust and dirt in the back of the shipping truck. That’s important, because we wouldn’t want to ship Nuggets to our customers with grit and grime on them! But given how many Nuggets we’re making these days (thousands of Nuggets a day kinda BIG), that adds up to a lot of plastic. 

How much plastic are we talking about here? Well, without a baler, plastic trash would take over the factory faster than you could say “no-Nuggety-way!” 

The baler helps keep the factory tidy and, most importantly, safe for the Nugget team to do their work. We don’t want to throw away all that plastic, so we work with a recycling company to dramatically decrease the amount of waste produced per Nugget created. In fact, since moving to our new HQ in mid-October 2020, we’ve recycled nearly 112,000 pounds of plastic! That’s about 28,000 pounds of plastic per truckload haul to the recycling center. 

How does the baler work? 

Each piece of foam is processed at a detrashing station to strip off the plastic and prep the foam for their new Nugget cover clothes. Our spinning detrashing station was specially designed by our in-house Engineering team (thanks, y’all!) to make plastic removal quick, safe, and as ergonomic as possible. 

The plastic is then placed in a big bin and wheeled over to the recycling baler. There, watch those fingers and toes! The powerful baler smushes the plastic into the smallest shape possible, with each bale totaling approximately 800 pounds! 

These bales are wrapped in a metal wire, loaded on a truck, and delivered to the recycling center. Our local recycling partner then recycles and repurposes the plastic, keeping plastic out of landfills. 

There are a lot of moving parts to making, packaging, and shipping Nuggets from HQ to homes across the country. Our Big Machines series will walk you through how we’ve been able to scale up our production since moving to HQ in Butner. Keep your eyes peeled for info on our box chucker, burrito dropper, and more, all coming soon!