Garbage compaction allows large amounts of trash to collect in a single area without the need to increase garbage collection. In housing communities, such as condos and apartments, the property usually places trash compactors in convenient locations throughout the property. Residents deposit their trash in the compactors which run at regular cycles to condense the trash they contain, making room for more trash until the city trash collector comes around. Additionally, some homes install personal garbage compactors for reducing the overall bulk of their refuse in between trash pickup days.
In large communities garbage compactors are a wise investment, allowing many people to dispose of their trash while accommodating a one or two day a week pickup from city trash disposal. Unfortunately, large garbage compactors on properties with hundreds of residents lack regulation, which often results in waste disposal problems. For example, despite many properties offering recycling bins alongside the garbage compactor, many residents do not separate their trash. Additionally, residents may overfill the compactor without waiting for the garbage to be compacted resulting in strain on the motor or damage to the compactor. If the compactor breaks on a large property, many people simply pile up their trash, which is quite unsightly.
Disposal of the Waste
Once trash is compacted and collected by garbage trucks, it may go to a town dump or to an incinerator, depending on local waste disposal regulations. Incinerated trash, if burned properly, passes the fumes from the burned garbage through a cleanser rather than directly into the atmosphere. The use of the town dump, however, may result in the excessive buildup of garbage. If all of the garbage that was compacted is biodegradable, collecting in a dump is less of a problem because over time the trash will degrade. If some of the compacted garbage is not biodegradable, this can become a problem that may prevent or interfere with the degradation of other trash.
Large Amounts of Garbage
Garbage compactors reduce the need for frequent trash pickup. This saves money for the city or community and saves time for the garbage trucks. The large collections of trash, however, will eventually begin to smell. This offensive odor could reduce the desire of potential residents to move into a property and encourage current residents to want to leave. Despite the fact that most compactors are enclosed, the type of trash placed in the compactors and the length of time the trash sits there may result in the smell of the trash spreading beyond the property, especially in the warmer months or in humid climates.
Personal Garbage Compactors
Compactors for home use are often smaller than a dishwasher and function like large garbage compactors, pressing trash into a tight cube that takes up less space than full trash bags. Problems with personal compactors are often mechanical issues in which the compactor was overfilled, items that could not be crushed were used inside the compactor or wear and tear breaks the machine down. As with large community compactors, private home compactors allow large amounts of garbage to build up. Unknown or inappropriate items thrown in with the trash and pressed into a compacted garbage cube can present hazards such as increased flammability or sharp edges that may cause injury.
- Tennessee Solid Waste Education Project: Where Does Our Trash Go?
- Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.: Waste Treatment and Disposal Systems; 1995
- New York University - "Expanding the Use of Roll-On, Roll-Off Trash Compactor Technology to Reduce Rodent Infestations in New York City: NYC Private Multiple-Dwelling Deployment Assessment"; Rae Zimmerman, Carlos E. Restrepo, Zhan Guo; June 2009
- AP Wagner Appliance Parts Blog: 5 Common Trash Compactor Problems; June 3, 2008
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Trash Pickup Rules
The history of trash collection in the United States goes back to 1757, before the Revolutionary War, when Benjamin Franklin began the...