A public grand opening for anything with a name like “Cram-a-Lot” simply begs for a demonstration.

Thus, Wednesday’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the city’s new cardboard recycling baler included just that: About two dozen spectators piled cardboard into one end of the Cram-a-Lot, then watched as an 1,800-pound bale came out the other.

“We’re very glad ya’ll are here,” Public Works Manager Cary Walker told the crowd, adding that the city is grateful for volunteer labor. “It doesn’t get dark til’ 9.”

With installation, electrical infrastructure and other costs, the baler represents an investment of about $113,000 — $54,000 of which was provided by an anonymous donor through a grant to Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful.

“They came and visited, loved the city and wanted to do something,” Mayor Shelley Brophy said.

Walker had been working on his boat when then KNB Director Katie Blevins called to tell him about the possible grant, asking what the city most needed.

“And I said, ‘a baler.’ And here it is,” he said. “It’s a humbling thing for a city employee to see so many people help us.”

Like many other cities in the U.S., Nacogdoches is still searching for a solution for an abundance of plastic that’s no longer being accepted for recycling due to a global drop in demand. But for recycling, the cardboard baler represents a step forward — the first time the city will turn a profit vs. paying a cost to recycle any material, city officials say.

At today’s prices, a cardboard bale will fetch about $25 for the city — but like any commodity, the market fluctuates, Walker said.

“It’s a market like oil, grain or anything else,” he said.

The new baler is located in an existing building at the city landfill.

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