What is a Trash Compactor?

J. Beam

Household garbage accumulates at a fast rate, especially in the kitchen. Bags fill up quickly and must be taken out at frequent intervals, which is a chore in itself. A trash compactor is a household appliance that helps minimize the frequency of trash removal. Installed under a kitchen counter, this device is a trash can that can be turned on to compact trash in the bag, which creates more space and thus holds more than traditional kitchen trash cans.

Glass bottles can't go in a trash compactor.
Glass bottles can't go in a trash compactor.

A trash compactor has a motor inside that operates a press, which lowers into the trash receptacle, compacts the trash, and then raises back up. Trash compactors use specially designed bags. Both paper and plastic compactor bags are available, with the paper bags having a protective lining and the plastic bags being a durable, multi-ply plastic. Compactor bags cost more than typical kitchen trash bags, but are changed less frequently.

The use of a trash compactor can encourage glass recycling.
The use of a trash compactor can encourage glass recycling.

Trash compactors have several advantages, but a few disadvantages. The appliance does reduce the frequency of trash removal because they do not require emptying as frequently as traditional cans. It handles cumbersome cardboard boxes from prepackaged food nicely and keep paper products well under control. However, glass bottles and jars should not be placed in a compactor because they can shatter under the weight of the compactor, posing a potential hazard. It is also not wise to place many table scraps or food in the compactor because they are removed less frequently allowing time for odors to build up in the kitchen.

A trash compactor eliminates overflowing outdoor garbage cans and reduces the frequency of trips outdoors, making it an ideal appliance for elderly households. The use of this appliance can encourage recycling of glass and less waste of food. Most any appliance retailer sells trash compactors and they install easily directly beneath a kitchen counter top, usually near the oven or other direct source of power.

Trash takes up less space after being compacted.
Trash takes up less space after being compacted.

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Discussion Comments


The article mentions that trash compactors encourage the recycling of glass bottles. I don't have a problem with trash compactors, but the truth is that encouraging recycling should not be considered a benefit. Contrary to popular belief, recycling glass actually wastes more resources than it saves.


Thank you for the info! I recently bought a house with a compactor and didn't know how to use it. I also needed to know what could go in and what couldn't. Thanks!


Thanks for your informative article on trash compactors. I want to buy one but with so many in the market now, I don't know where to begin. Is there any article you know of that compares the different models, prices and features?

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