What Can You Put in a Trash Compactor?

August 23, 2023
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What Can and Can’t be Safely Disposed of in a Trash Compactor

With so few trash compactors out there these days, it is likely you have forgotten some of the dos and don’ts for disposing of certain items. This article will refresh your memory on what trash objects you are allowed to put in a compactor and what kinds of materials can pose a danger if compacted.

Although trash compactors are on the unofficial list of endangered appliances, they are not yet extinct!

What Is Safe To Put in a Trash Compactor?

Most of the everyday trash produced in your home is safe to go in a trash compactor. Compactors can handle a wide variety of materials, including most kinds of food waste, plastic wrappers and bottles, paper products, fabrics, and cartons.

However, this will differ for a larger commercial trash compactor. A commercial trash compactor is specifically designed to handle heavier trash volume and a wider variety of trash.

How a Trash Compactor Works

What Cannot Go in a Trash Compactor?

However, there are a few notable categories of items that should not go in a trash compactor. Any kind of electronic or battery should not be compacted. You should also avoid putting glass in your compactor–you will end up with a lot of broken shards which can puncture the trash compactor bag and result in a hazardous, messy situation.

Most food waste is safe to go in the compactor, but you might think twice before putting especially smelly items inside. It is possible to go up to two weeks between taking out the trash with a compactor, and foods like meat and fish can rot and make your whole kitchen smell.

Other materials that are not able to be compacted include wood and bone. These materials are too firm to be broken down by a compactor and can break the machine.

Human and pet waste should also not be compacted, as they can also be significant odorous agents.

Plastic container, refrigerator.

You Should Really Avoid Putting Food in a Trash Compactor as Bad Smells Can Emanate From Your Compactor

Why Don’t We Use Trash Compactors Anymore?

Trash compactors used to be in nearly every home kitchen in America, and now they are almost nowhere to be found. What was the cause of their rapid rise in popularity and then sharp decline?

Consumers began to think that the cost of a compactor was not worth the benefits of having one. Including installation, a compactor can cost up to $1,000. Additionally, compactors take up a lot of floor space or under the cabinet space, and with the rising cost of real estate, Americans were no longer willing to sacrifice that square footage in increasingly smaller kitchens.

Even the best trash compactors tend to be smellier than a regular trash can, even with more modern designs that focus on minimizing odors from waste material.

One of the benefits of a trash compactor is that it reduces the volume of waste produced and thus reduces the number of trips necessary to the curb or the dumpster. However, the flip side of reduced volume is increased density. With a compactor, bags of trash can reach up to and beyond 30 pounds.

Compacted trash is obviously going to be heavier than normal trash. Extremely heavy trash bags are not easy for the elderly, children, or physically disabled people to work with. Upon realizing this downside, many Americans ditched their compactors for regular trash cans with smaller and easier to handle bags.

Compactors also require special bags. These specialized trash compactor bags are designed to withstand the rigors of of being subjected to the force of the compactor and are much less likely to break or rip open than a standard garbage bag.

Another one of the initial benefits of kitchen compactors was that they were considered environmentally friendly and were a good option for households and families looking to reduce their individual carbon footprints. By compacting trash, it reduces the amount of space waste takes up in landfills.

However, since their booming popularity in the 1970s, recycling practices have come a long way. Much of the waste that would have initially ended up in a compactor is now able to be sustainably disposed of with recycling or composting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Put Food Waste in a Trash Compactor?

You can put food waste in a trash compactor but you probably shouldn’t unless you want your house to take on the odor of rotting food. While you technically can put food waste into a trash compactor, there are a few better solutions to food waste these days. One of these ways is composting, a process in which biodegradable matter gets naturally recycled and goes back into the soil to help regenerate ecosystems. Non recyclable, non biodegradable garbage is a better choice for a trash compactor.

Composting is a much more eco-friendly option for dealing with food waste and prevents too much food waste from ending up in landfills.

Certain kinds of food waste should never be put in a trash compactor, such as fish and meat. These items can rot and cause your trash to smell.

Can You Put Cardboard in a Trash Compactor?

Cardboard won’t damage your trash compactor but the proper disposal method for cardboard is recycling. You could certainly compact cardboard prior to recycling.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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