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Trash Compactors: Another Look

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Blog Post by SCGH

The Question

A few years ago, SCGH explored the question, “Do trash compactors really reduce landfill space?” and we concluded, “No, they don’t really make a difference.” Given the then-current models that were electronically powered and designed to fit only special types of plastic trash bags, it seemed like an unnecessary gadget—especially from Mother Earth’s perspective. Why not just try to produce less trash and re-use grocery bags as trash bags?

A few years later, things have changed: 1) Many of us now use re-usable grocery totes (awesome!), so we don’t have lots of extra disposable bags lying around—or sitting in landfills. 2) We’re also now buying recycled or biodegradable trash bags to line our cans, but they fill up quickly and can get expensive. 3) A new development in trash compactors is about to enter the market which could change things quite a bit.

Thus we’re ready to take another look at the potential benefits of trash compactors—the TK10™ Home Trash Krusher to be exact.  This model, set to release on March 2nd, enables you to manually and cleanly compact your kitchen trash or recycling, right inside the can. By grabbing the handle on the lid and pushing, you can compact household trash down to about half its normal volume, without getting trash on your sleeve. This means fewer trips to the curb and fewer plastic trash bags.

“One of the core ideas behind the TK10™ was to try to alleviate the impact that plastic has on our environment,” says co-inventor John Hyle. “Plastic bags have a hard time decomposing to begin with, but without the exposure to sunlight and air, they may take more than 500 years to biodegrade.  With the TK10™, our customers will be using less plastic and making fewer trips to the waste can.”

The Test

That sounds like a good idea, but will recycled or biodegradable bags hold up inside the can?  Are they strong enough?  We decided to put the “eco-friendly” Trash Krusher to the test.

Since the TK10™ was a prototype, we asked co-inventor Pete Ellman to purchase specific eco-friendly trash bags and have his research team monitor the results according to our criteria.  “We purchased Seventh Generation 13 gallon Recycled Trash Bags (a typical environmentally friendly specification of bag), and we are happy to report that they worked flawlessly in the TK10™ Trash Krusher.  Despite the increased weight loads, and additional stress put upon the bags during removal and disposal due to heavier weight, no additional tearing, ripping or general failures of bag performance were noted,” according to Ellman’s research team.

The Analysis

So, this time around, what’s our verdict? Overall, while trash compactors don’t necessarily reduce landfill space, the TK10™—and others like it—offer some promising earth-friendly benefits:

1. Encourages plastic reduction: Use eco-friendly trash bags—and fewer of them!
Using half as many plastic kitchen trash bags is great. Using half as many recycled or biodegradable kitchen trash bags is even better.

2. Smart design: Human-powered and made to fit the masses.
Unlike previous trash compactors, the TK10™ does not use electricity or require special bags. “To me, the best designs in the world are the simplest ones,” said Ellman.

3. Promotes awareness: The “hands-on” compactor makes us think about trash.
Kids (not advised for the littlest ones) have fun ‘krushing’ down the trash, Ellman explained. Even this simple interaction with the trash receptacle helps “show them how much trash they produce … [they see] how frequently it fills up.”

4. Works for recyclables: Not just for landfill trash.
In an ongoing effort to reduce landfill trash, we recommend looking beyond the trash can by composting food waste and recycling responsibly. The TK10™ can also help here, Pete says, because it can smash down recyclables like paper and plastic products.

To learn more about the TK10™ Home Trash Krusher, watch Easy as 1,2,3 or Everybody’s Talkin’ Trash, or visit them online.

For related articles, see:
Trash Compactors: Do They Really Reduce Landfill Space?
Curbside Food Waste Collection: A Growing Trend
Top 10 Reasons to Compost
Garbage Disposal: Do You Really Need One?

© 2013 SCGH, LLC.



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