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Is there a trash compactor in your future?

September 19, 2010
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Trash collection is an important part of a custodian’s job — a job that can cost a company a lot of time and money to complete.

In this age of budget cuts and reduced labor, many facility service providers (FSPs) have discovered the benefits of using trash compactors as time- and labor-saving tools.

The benefits of using trash compactors include:

  • Saving labor
  • Reducing leakage and use of trashcan liners
  • Increasing employee morale
  • Improving sanitation, odors and health
  • Tightening security
  • Reducing rodent and insect infiltration
  • Minimizing waste-hauling expenses

Saving labor
After the refuse is deposited into the receptacle, it will automatically compact the trash. These types of compactors do not need to be emptied as often as conventional trashcans, which can mean big savings in time and labor for the FSP.

Depending on the brand, a trashcan compactor can compact as many as 10 to 20 25-gallon bags of trash into one 40-to 50-pound block that usually requires removal only once a day, compared to 10 to 20 times a day for a conventional trashcan receiving the same use.

Trashcan compactors will also reduce trash-related labor duties, such as picking up overflowing trash; removing and replacing the liner; sweeping, mopping or vacuuming the floor; and putting the trash receptacle back in place and hauling the bag to the dumpster.

In fact, a 50-to 75-percent reduction in trash related expenses is not uncommon. The cost savings in labor alone will usually pay for the machine in approximately a year, two at the very most.

Save on liners, reduce leakage
Users of trashcan compactors also save money on trashcan liners. Typically, one heavy-duty compactor liner will replace 10 to 20 of the conventional variety.

Although compactor liners are initially more expensive than conventional liners, you use far fewer and therefore save money. Companies using compactors have reported a 25 to 35 percent reduction in trashcan liner expense.

Furthermore, conventional trashcan liners occasionally leak, leaving spots on carpet and hard-surface floors and require additional cleaning and investment. Leaks on hard-surface floors can also increase the chance of a slip/fall accident occurring and costing your business big money.

Most compactors feature some sort of sanitation and odor-control system. Even units without these systems tend to be less odiferous, simply because waste is neatly compacted in leak-resistant bags. In areas with lower volume, this means trash can remain in the compactor for an extended period of time without creating a problem.

Most often trash is hauled out after hours, at night, in the dark. Each time a technician hauls trash to the dumpster, a door is left open or unlocked; and the more trips to the dumpster, the greater the chance that someone could enter the building undetected.

With the trash neatly compacted and stacked inside the building, many companies have elected to haul it to the dumpster during daylight hours.

Further, some employees use the trash to pilfer from companies, hiding items in the trash to get them out of the building. Compacting trash helps eliminate this problem.

Compacted trash also makes it more difficult for individuals to dig through the trash and steal valuable information, as it is nearly impossible for anyone to dig through the completely self-contained units.

As well, compacted trash keeps others from using your dumpster. The source of any other trash in your dumpster can be easily identified, since it will stick out like a sore thumb among your compacted waste.

Reduce rodent, insect infiltration
Compacted trash makes it more difficult for rodents to rummage through the trash, and greatly helps with insect infiltration.

Many schools, restaurants and other facilities that deal with a lot of wet trash (especially soda) have reported a major reduction in the bee population buzzing around their dumpsters.

Compacted trash can also help with rodents roaming around inside a facility. By eliminating a food source, the vermin will have to go elsewhere to find food.

All shapes and sizes
Different types of compactors are available to fit facilities’ various needs.

Under-the-counter: Traditionally used in residential settings, these can also be utilized in smaller offices.

These units compact trash into a heavy-duty liner that prevents leaks and odor problems from occurring, thereby decreasing the frequency of "taking out the trash".

Trash receptacle/self-contained units: These units resemble the regular trash cans you see in many public facilities.

They are especially beneficial at facilities in which cleaning personnel must empty trash receptacles many times a day, such as airports, restaurants, stadiums, large institutions, school lunchrooms, universities, and other public buildings.

Editor’s note: In gathering information for this article, Bob Merkt interviewed several companies, including: Hawkpak Inc., WasteCare Corperation, Chicago TrashPacker Company, and James Burris and Associates — Waste Management Specialist.

Bob Merkt is owner and instructor, Merkt Educational Group and Associates (MEGA), a division of Kettle Moraine Professional Cleaners, Inc, West Bend, WI, and an instructor with Cleaning Management Institute® (CMI).

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