Eugene Recycling Equipment Manufacturer Reaches into Global Markets

In the early 1980s, Bulk Handling Systems, located in Eugene, diversified its operations and began manufacturing sophisticated processing systems for the solid waste and recycling industry. More recently, the company introduced itself to more customers across the globe thanks, in part, to the assistance of Business Oregon's Global Strategies Team.

"Bulk Handling Systems is a terrific success story," Governor John Kitzhaber said during a recent visit to the company. "It's an example of how Oregon will emerge stronger and more prosperous from this challenging economic time through innovation and entrepreneurial drive, with Oregonians designing and building the products of the 21st century."

Indeed, the company is growing by leaps and bounds. At the end of 2011, Bulk Handling Systems had 210 employees, up about 70 employees from just a year ago, CEO Steve Miller told the Eugene Register-Guard. The company moved to a new headquarters building in 2011 and soon after began adding an additional 1,500 square feet to make room for the next 25 to 30 employees it needs to hire to keep up with demand.

According to CEO Miller, the growing demand has resulted in the company's revenues rising 75% this year over 2010. In 2012, Miller said the company additional sales growth of 45-50%, he said.

The company, which began its operations in 1976, designs, manufactures and installs complex processing systems that extract recyclables from the waste stream and help minimize residue headed to landfills. In 2011, Business Oregon's global trade specialists assisted the company with a $2,500 Oregon Trade Promotion Program (OTPP) grant helping it defray some of the costs associated with appearing at a Moscow, Russia, industry trade show. As a result of that appearance, the company estimates it may garner as much as $15 million in new sales to customers.

Bulk Handling Systems machines can often help communities increase their recycling rates by making recycling easier for consumers. For example, in August 2011, the San Francisco Examiner reported that there was a 34% increase in glass, metal, paper and plastic recycled from the 92,000 households in the community of San Mateo County community of San Carlos. The increase coincided with the switch by customers from using two 18-gallon cartons—one for glass, plastic and metal containers, and one for paper—to a single 64-gallon blue bin for all recyclables.

In this case, the customized, $16 million Bulk Handling Systems processing machines use infrared scanners to identify and separate each different type of plastic. As containers speed along a conveyor belt, a video camera analyzes them before blasting air that pushes plastic bottles into separate chutes. Elsewhere at the 16-acre complex south of San Francisco, a massive magnet draws up cans and other metal, and a series of spinning disks fling paper upward, allowing only heavier containers to slip through narrow openings below.