Sports Direct Producing 2200 Bales of Recyclables Each Month on HSM Balers

IN-DEPTH: Sports Direct Cuts Carbon Emissions with Automated Balers from HSM

At its headquarters in Shirebrook, UK, retail giant, Sports Direct, has deployed automated HSM balers to manage 800 to 1000 tonnes of cardboard waste each month, reducing its overall carbon emissions.


Approximately 4000 people work at the Shirebrook site, which has six buildings covering a floor area of 167,000 square metres and offers a total of 240,000 square metres including mezzanine levels.

Founded in 1982, Sports Direct International is the UK’s largest sporting goods retailer. It operates a diversified portfolio of sports, fitness, fashion and lifestyle brands across a number of locations. At its headquarters in Shirebrook, the company uses HSM balers to manage 800 to 1000 tonnes of cardboard waste each month.

As one of the UK’s largest retailers, recycling is important to Sports Direct – not only from a corporate responsibility perspective, but also from an economic one. The company’s strict recycling standards mean all UK stores are monitored closely to ensure there’s no cross contamination between recyclable materials such as wood, cardboard, plastics, etc.

The huge warehouse at the company’s Shirebrook, Nottinghamshire headquarters acts as a hub for managing waste from across 1000 stores. Back in 2000, the facility began to streamline the way it handled its waste with the installation of a baler from German manufacturer HSM. According to facility manager Martyn Joyce, that machine “paid for itself in no time.”

“We initially engaged with HSM when facilitating our original premises in Dunstable and as a consequence of HSM’s understanding of our specified waste processing requirements, we installed our first HSM automated machine,” says Joyce. “This machine served us exceptionally well ahead of our eventual relocation to a purpose-built new distribution hub in Newark, Nottinghamshire.”

One of the key objectives for HSM was having a ‘real’ understanding of Sports Direct’s operational requirements, with solutions strategically located to handle waste ergonomically and conveniently, which had been either back-hauled from stores or generated in-house.

More recently the company decided to utilise a more efficient ‘automated’ recycling method to reduce its carbon footprint. The Shirebrook facility now contains nine HSM automated balers for cardboard and five V-Press models for plastic waste, with the latter recycling up to 40 tonnes each month and around 480 tonnes annually. A total of 2200 bales are produced on a monthly basis across all baler machines within the warehouse.

The entry-level ‘Mill Size’ Model HSM VK 4812 automated baler incorporates an in-line feeding conveyor as part of HSM’s design. This ensures that the full working width of existing Sports Direct dock levellers was optimised and results in the creation of an exceptionally large charging area to enhance speed of loading, increased capacities and, above all, to real labour savings by eliminating a need to tie off bales manually.

Some solutions within Sports Direct were further adapted to accept packaging via mezzanine gravity discharge chutes, permitting two waste streams to be processed simultaneously.

From a logistical perspective, each baler is assigned to different locations within the distribution centre to improve productivity and decrease downtime.

In addition to the cardboard and plastic balers, around 150 tonnes of dry mixed recycling are baled on-site each month, before being sent out to a third party which “recycles as much as they can out of it,” according to Martyn.

“The cardboard bales produced here don’t have any rubbish in them such as plastics or staples,” he adds. “We’ve had no issue selling our products because of their great quality.”

The organisation has its own on-site maintenance team, which carries out daily, weekly and monthly checks. However, it also has a service contract with HSM, which visits the Shirebrook site every six months to do all the major servicing, making sure the machines are fully functioning all year round.