According to Heinonen, whether the waste taken to landfills is compacted by a diesel-powered or an electric compactor is not such an issue in terms of emissions. The bigger problems to be solved are whether the waste can be separated, processed, recycled and reused. After all, the global goal is to prevent the generation of new waste and avoid the need to establish new landfills.
“During the transition to a circular economy, an efficient and controlled landfill is of course better than not processing waste at all. TANA landfill compactors are typically around ten percent more efficient than other machines, which extends the lifespan of landfills and similarly reduces the need to establish new ones,” Heinonen points out.
“Some people compare landfill compactors to bulldozers, which are still used in some markets, but they do not compact waste nearly as efficiently,” he adds.
Using a shredder, waste can be processed in one place and transported on tracks or in a container from one waste pile to another or to the maintenance area. The fact that the waste has to be transported short distances at most has allowed Tana to begin electrifying its shredders. Waste compactors, on the other hand, are used in motion, which poses its own challenges.
“Electrifying massive machines like waste compactors is much more challenging due to their operating environment, so we are investigating alternative energy sources for our compactors. Electric compactors would either need a ridiculously large and expensive battery pack or be charged so frequently that a complex charging infrastructure would also have to be built,” Olli Heinonen explains.
Waste shredders, by comparison, are operated for several hours at a time at the end of the waste piles, so battery technology is not needed. Their operating cycles are long.
According to CEO Kalle Saarimaa, Tana aims to cover the entire global market. On the global scale, even landfill compactors protect biodiversity and reduce the need to establish new landfills. Nevertheless, he does not refer to compactors as a product of the future, but rather “an optimisation of the linear economy”.
“This year, waste compactors have accounted for the majority of our global sales, but we are starting to shift more to shredders, perhaps 60:40,” says Saarimaa.