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Using an Electric Tugger in a Materials Recovery Facility

An electric tugger is a highly flexible, low-cost solution to the material handling challenges that can occur at materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and waste processing plants. Armed with a Nu-Star Power Pusher or similar tugger, a single employee can transport incredible loads in one or more Mobile Garbage Bins.

Electric tuggers are hand-operated towing vehicles, and despite the name, they’re as effective at pushing carts as they are at pulling them. The Nu-Star Power Pusher, for instance, connects rugged wheels to a 24-volt DC, 400-watt rotational motor. The operator controls this motor with triggers on the ergonomic handles, safely tugging or pushing up to 50,000 pounds of materials loaded into carts.

Here are a few of the tasks that an electric tugger can make safer, more productive, and possible in the first place at MRFs of any capacity:

  • Replacing bins of rejected materials. At a modern MRF, much of the material handling is more or less automated. Trucks dump loads onto the tipping floor, then dumpers push them into an in-feed conveyor, across sorting lines, and over various screens and filters. Sorting staff pull out plastic bags and nonrecylable materials, and at many MRFs, they toss them quickly into nearby bins. Given the high speed of sorting conveyors, these bins fill up many times per shift, and must be replaced without delay. Electric tuggers allow operators to pull full bins to residue lines or plastic film recycling systems without slowing down the sorters.
  • Glass bunker cleanup. While industrial trucks handle the bulk of the work in the glass bunker, occasionally workers must clean the MRF floor manually. A 290-gallon Mobile Garbage Bin full of broken glass can weigh close to 4,000 pounds. With an electric tugger, a single employee can safely move such a load across the floor to a final collection hopper and bin dumping equipment.
  • Residue handling. Every MRF generates some volume of residue. Unrecyclable waste may mostly travel along designated conveyor lines, but a percentage of it inevitably ends up on the facility floor. A combination of Mobile Garbage Bins, an electric tugger, and a high-capacity Bin Dumper allows staff to efficiently remove loose debris without increasing ergonomic risk.

Today’s MRFs are highly streamlined operations. They’re designed to move, sort, and bale recyclable materials with minimal human touches. Still, some materials end up outside of the proper channels.

There are also cases of malfunctioning lines, repairs on machinery, and maintenance; in fact, the odd material handling task at a MRF can arrive at any time, in any number of ways. In these cases, staff must be able to safely and efficiently move heavy loads in wheeled carts. And for any such task, an electric tugger is the perfect tool for the job.


Substance volume to weight conversions.Aqua-Calc. AVCalc LLC, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2019.