The primary shredder is technically a hammer mill. Horizontal rows of hammers powered by a 1,000 horsepower electric motor literally rip the raw refuse into rough 6-inch chunks. This powerful machine was designed to shred automobiles into pieces small enough to bale for salvage.
Each of the 40 hammers in the primary shredder weighs about 145 pounds and costs about $380. On average, the hammers need to replaced after 11,500 tons of processing, or about every three months. After the first side of a hammer is worn it is turned in order to use the second side. After the second side is worn, the hammer is replaced.
Inside the shredder, the refuse that isn't instantly milled to pieces bounces around and remains inside the shredder until it is small enough to pass through holes in a grate at the bottom of the machine, dropping onto a conveyor moving toward the electromagnetic separator.