Why don't more homes have trash compactors?

I have recently been lobbying the condo board to get an industrial trash compactor put in the building. It would allow us to reduce our commercial trash pickups from twice a week to about twice a month. It would take about two years for the machine to pay for itself.

But then I thought- why don’t more homes have smaller versions of trash compactors? It seems like a great way to reduce your trash pickup bill. I’m not even sure you could argue that it takes up space because the ones I’ve seen look about as large as a trash can.

Does anybody here have one? How do you like it?

My parents have a compactor at home, and they never use it. It doesn’t work especially well unless you shell out for “special” garbage bags that you have to buy from the company. I dont’ know if trash compactors are better now than before, but ours is pretty lousy.

Besides, even if it did work I don’t think it would make a big enough impact to lower our trash bill or the number of times our trash is picked up. Even if rotting food takes up only half as much space, it still attracts vermin and needs to get picked up…

I come across this topic constantly as a kitchen designer. Here are my thoughts:
1)Most residential customers do not pay based upon volume, but rather on interval pickups. therefore any savings that compacting would have is eliminated.

  1. They smell. It doesn’t matter how good it is, the activated charcoal filters just don’t catch all the odors. Why is this a problem? Because with a compactor, the garbage stays in the house longer, is compacted so juices etc. collect and mingel at the bottom and there is more rotting action going on hence more odors. HTis is even more of a problem when you recycle, as you are concentrating the smelly stuff and creating even longer intervals between removal.

  2. Space. Granted, in the high end kitchens I do, space is not ususally the biggest problem, but in most kitchens an extra 18" (45cm) is better utilized by functional storage.

  3. Cost. You have to buy the unit which usually runs several hundred dollars. Then depending on your cabinet layout, you will need either panels L and R, or a decorative front. this will add a couple hundred right there in materials and labor. Speaking of labor, don’t forget the electrician to hook it up (esp. if you are retrofitting to an existing Kitchen). there’s a good $75 right there. All this assumes you happen to have an 18" cabinet right in the space you want the compactor. If not, be prepared to go an drop several more hundred on replacement cabinets to make a new layout work. Oh, I hope it will fit your existing layout or you will need new countertops…and did I mention your new cabinets/panels will not match the existing ones because they are newer?

So you see, you have just dropped the better part of $1000 or more for NO savings if you are a residential customer.

Those are the main points. In new construction, a lot of the costs can be hidden or worked into larger budgets, but the end result is usually an 18" space that is never used due to its inconvenience as compared to plain old garbage cans.

oh, Attrayant? the Broan is a piece of shit that breaks down constantly too. Try KitchenAid if you want reliability;)

We moved into a house that had a compactor. I love it!

Yes, it takes special heavy duty bags, but they’re not that expensive at Costco. And since I’m using fewer expensive bags than I did cheap bags, I figure the cost is close to the same as before.

This house was built in the '70s and I’d guess that this compactor is the original.

Odor has not been a problem. Perhaps that has to do with the kind of garbage we produce. A lot of the small organic matter goes down the disposal so it never hangs around in the compactor.

MikeG said:

This is exactly why I think it would result in savings. Fewer (if heavier) pickups means a smaller bill from BFI.

I thought about this. I am already in the habit if rinsing out my containers before I toss them into the trash can, so they wouldn’t drip into the compactor. Virtually all aromatic trash goes down the disposal. The only thing a sink disposal won’t take is bones & raw animal fat, and that would stink up a regular trash can.

Ah, the final frontier. I was thinking of sinking it into the wall, on the other side of which is a bedroom closet. There would be a little storage space lost in the closet but if I arranged the things in there a little more efficiently I think the loss would not be significant.

The cost of the compacor is the only expense for me, as I am fully able to handle the woodworking & electrical wiring needed to to the installation. I’ve installed a dishwasher before- a compactor can’t be much more difficult.

Since I have removed the labor & some incidental costs, it’s more like $500 for a small savings, fewer trips to the dumpster & a whole lotta warm fuzzy feelgood that I am filling up the landfill a little bit slower than before. Or causing the truck to make fewer trips to the city dump. Or something.

Back when I was a kid . . . only a few families compacted their trash. The usualy method was for the dad to back over the trash can while exiting the drive.

Good points but I believe I was not clear on my first point. BFI etc. charge a flat rate for residential pickup and the set up a route. FOr instance my neighbor gets his picked up Mon. and Thurs., regardless of whether there is anything there or not. You don’t get a credit if you have nothing in the can. This is pretty much the only feasible way to schedule large numbers of route pickups. Asking the garbage man to determine if any individual customer left garbage or not is pretty impractical.

Now if you are in a multi unit Condo or commercial bulding the rules are pretty much up for grabs. my company does a regular pickup and a cardboard volume based pickup and they have totally different billing schedules.

Also it sounds like you are compacting a lot of things that might be better off being recycled i.e. cans, rinsable containers, etc. (unless you subsist entirely on CapriSuns and Pringles- the most unrecyclable containers ever devised :D)

For the organic refuse, have you considered composting? In my last house, I built one and it worked great. Obviously this is less than ideal if you are in an apartment but if you have the space, it is an excellent alternative.

      • I compost and compact all my trash. Down at the landfill.
  • If you really want something, you’re likely to “just happen to find” solutions to all the possible problems it causes. - MC

We have to separate all our trash into various recyclables, and non-recyclable wastes. All must be kept in clear plastic bags. Therefore our compacter goes unused,except for aluminum can disposal, which quite frankly, doesn’t work as well as a cheap aluminum can crusher