Waste Compactors Information

Drum crusherCompactors are machines used to reduce the size of waste material. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes depending upon the intended application and material to be processed.

Compaction refers to the process of applying stress to a low-density material — in this case solid waste — in order to displace air from spaces between the grains or pieces of material. This process renders the material into a smaller, higher-density package or surface which is easier to transport or build upon.

Waste compaction is performed in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. By reducing the size of waste materials, businesses and homeowners can reduce the overall volume of trash and save space in designated waste areas. An example of this use can be commonly seen on waste collection vehicles (colloquially known as "garbage trucks"): by including an integrated compactor within the truck's storage area, the vehicle's waste capacity is increased, reducing the number of times the payload area must be emptied.

industrial compactorWaste compactors are often specially built to handle specific types of waste. Specialized types include can crushers, car crushers, drum crushers, lamp compactors, and solar "waste bin" type compactors. In light of these wide-ranging applications and uses, compactors are manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, from small residential trash can compactors to large industrial compactors attached directly to plants or loading docks.

While most waste compactors use hydraulic power to apply force, some are electrically- or even manually-powered.

Solid waste compactors as described in this selection guide are regarded as entities separate from aggregate compactors, which are typically heavy equipment attachments (or self-contained vehicles) used to compact asphalt, stone, sand, and earth to form a foundation for roads or buildings.


Most compactors use hydraulic presses to compact waste. While these presses effectively flatten many different types of waste, their use includes several inherent disadvantages, including uneven compaction and spring-back effect of waste, particularly when compacting corrugated material. For these reasons, auger compactors are gradually becoming more common. These machines consist of a large, continuously rotating auger situated between an open-top collector and a waste storage area. When solid waste is fed into the collector, the auger crushes it into manageable pieces and funnels it into the storage area. From there it may be compacted again, resulting in further space savings. Auger compactors are often electromechanically-powered, thereby eliminating the inherent disadvantages of the hydraulically-powered rams. They also eliminate the need to wait for cycling of the ram — which can take up to a minute — because of the auger's continuous operation.

An auger compactor in operation.

Video credit: Komar


Waste Material

When selecting a compactor, buyers should carefully consider the waste material that needs to be compacted. The intended material also has a great impact on the design and construction of the machine itself, including its size and material of construction. The table below lists some common waste materials and an image of an example compactor.

Waste type

Example image


industrial compactors selection guide

Bottles / cans

industrial compactors selection guide


industrial compactors selection guide

Fabric and textiles

industrial compactor selection guide

Food products

industrial compactors selection guide

Liquid extraction

industrial compactors selection guide

Paper and corrugated materials

industrial compactors selection guide

Rubber / mixed waste

industrial compactors selection guide

Wood chips and biomass

industrial compactors selection guide


Compactor Management Company

Image credits:

BASCO | New Pig Corporation | HowStuffWorks | hardwarestore.com | Benko | Compactor RUNI | Wastecare | SKE| DirectIndustry