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What Is a Trash Compactor and Should You Get One?

What Is a Trash Compactor and Should You Get One?

A compactor can help you avoid overflowing trash cans.


Dealing with garbage is a fact of life in every home and business. Even the greenest household produces garbage, and trash is even more inevitable when you run a business. To make trash easier to deal with, a lot of people choose to install a trash compactor.

What is a trash compactor, though? What do they do, and why do so many people use them? Below, you’ll find a compact guide ( pun very much intended!) to trash compactors for beginners.

What Is a Trash Compactor?

A trash compactor is a trash receptacle that includes a built-in crushing mechanism, usually a small hydraulic ram. Using a compactor is simple: You place your garbage in the can like you would normally, but once the can is full, you activate the crusher by pressing a switch. The crushing mechanism squeezes the trash tightly until it’s a fraction of its original size.

We’ve all seen (or done) the old “squish the garbage down into the can” trick, and the thinking behind it isn’t necessarily wrong. You can often get more use out of a single bag by squishing and squeezing. But even a strong human won’t be able to match the power and precision a trash compactor brings. 

What a trash compactor is not: 

Many people often get a trash compactor confused with a garbage disposal, as the two perform very different functions. Garbage disposals are installed underneath a sink and remove only food waste, while trash compactors pack and crush almost any kind of waste into a more manageable form. Both can be an important part of managing trash in your kitchen, and neither of them is something you should put your hand inside while it’s operating! 

Order 13-Gallon Trash Bags for Your Kitchen

Benefits of a Trash Compactor

Why are so many home and business owners choosing to purchase trash compactors? There are some clear benefits of installing a compactor, including:

  • Reduces how frequently trash needs to be taken out
  • Limits ecological footprint by using less space in landfills and fewer garbage bags
  • Packs garbage into a form that’s easier to store and handle
  • Helps control sanitation risks of excess garbage buildup

If your business or home deals with a lot of trash and you want to streamline your waste disposal process, purchasing a trash compactor may be an ideal place to start. 

hand holding a trash garbage bag at home to take it away

Source: Mike_shots/

Types of Trash Compactors to Consider 

Trash compactors come in many different styles. For residential use, your choice will mainly be between a free standing or under the counter compactor. The difference isn’t hard to guess: A free standing compactor has a finished top and can be installed anywhere. Under the counter compactors, meanwhile, are designed to go beneath a kitchen countertop, much like a dishwasher. Not sure which one you need? Consider purchasing a convertible trash compactor which can act as either type of trash compactor with a few quick modifications.

In addition to the residential compactors we just discussed, there are commercial and industrial trash compactors businesses use. These heavy-duty machines are designed for the large amounts of trash businesses have to dispose of. They use a similar mechanism as a home trash compactor, but they’re much larger, and a business will usually order one from a waste collection company. 

Do I Need Special Trash Bags for a Trash Compactor?

Yes. If you have a residential trash compactor model, you do need to purchase trash compactor bags to ensure your trash compactor functions correctly. Trash compactor bags are specially designed to withstand the huge amounts of force a trash compactor exerts. Normal 13-gallon trash bags, for example, are quite strong for normal applications, but they may not hold up to being crushed inside a compactor. Don’t knock regular trash bags. You wouldn’t do so well being smashed by a hydraulic press, either!

Order Trash Compactor Bags from Us and Save!

Plasticplace’s trash compactor bags are an ideal bag solution for your trash compactor. These tube-style bags are supplied uncut, so you can cut them to whatever length your trash compactor requires. In addition, their durable construction allows them to take on all kinds of compactors and all kinds of trash without bursting or ripping. 

Compactor Bag

Plasticplace Compactor Bag Tubing

Our mission at Plasticplace is to give you the best tools available for efficient waste management at your home or business. Besides a superior selection of trash bags and a reputation for outstanding customer service, we’re also proud to bring you key information to help you choose the right bag. Be sure to see our trash bag sizes chart to learn more about how to get the perfect sized bag for your trash can.

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