Trash Compacting in Custodial - Good Things in Small Packages

By Allen Rathey

Collecting trash with the OmniFlex SUV.
Collecting trash with the OmniFlex SUV.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said: 'Less is more.' While referring to the virtues of minimalist building design, his words apply to other minimalist strategies for doing more with less, such as:

  1. An adjustable wrench that does the work of several different wrenches.
  2. A 'Swiss' pocket knife with multiple 'blades' for jobs from cutting to filing to opening a wine bottle.
  3. Integrated custodial equipment that does the work of several different tools, including trash compacting; rather like a sport utility vehicle (SUV) of cleaning.

This article explores how #3 − multifunction cleaning equipment that also compacts trash −

  • Lowers Costs
  • Redirects Labor, Increases Profits
  • Improves Safety and Customer Perception
  • Reduces Environmental Impacts

Lowers Cost

Per consultant, William R. Griffin, cleaning 'labor accounts for 55 percent to 65 percent [of costs], not including supervision or management; supplies account for roughly four percent; equipment adds another two percent, but does not include paper, plastics or soaps, gels, deodorants, etc., which can run upwards of seven percent.'

He adds: '…equipment costs are increasing slightly and labor costs are decreasing slightly due to more equipment that can achieve higher production rates being used versus more bodies.' [italics mine] (Ref. 1)

Since labor is the biggest cost of cleaning, tools that enable one operator to do two or more tasks effectively and quickly lowers costs. 

Spray-and-vac, automatic vacuum, and dispense-and-vac platform technologies are known for speed (Ref. 2), versatility, and soil removal performance (Ref. 3) with onboard tools: replacing mops and buckets, standalone spray-and-wipe methods, wet vacuums, dust mops, and sometimes auto scrubbers.

Applying the strong suction of these systems to removing air from onboard trash adds yet another blade to the 'Swiss' knife of cleaning: trash compacting.

Using the vacuum-shrink and -seal principle of cryo-food packaging and consumer food storage bags, removing air from onboard trash shrinks its volume by 50-75% reducing labor cost by reducing trips to the dumpster.

Eliminating 15 minutes of travel time − back and forth to the dumpster − per shift for each of three $15 per hour workers, saves about $4,000 annually in direct labor costs.

In addition, by reducing the volume of trash placed in dumpsters, facilities can reduce hauling fees based on lower volume. (Ref. 4)

Per a waste management firm: 'If a trash dumpster is emptied 5 times per week and as a result of compacting … trash can be emptied 3 times per week, it would save trash haulers 40% of their operating costs.' (Ref. 5) 

Redirects Labor, Increases Profits

By cleaning, trash collecting and compacting using a single SUV-like system, workers can apply their time and energy to doing a better job rather than frequently emptying trash.

Better quality work increases client acquisition and retention, helping to increase and maintain profits.

Improves Safety and Customer Perception

Trash compacting with onboard vacuum-pressure rather than using a hand to press down trash, takes No Touch Cleaning® to a new level of safety by preventing workers from touching soiled materials or being exposed to sharps.

Removing air (containing oxygen) from trash also reduces bacterial growth leading to decomposition and odor; another reason food packers used vacuum-sealing for food preservation.

Lastly, compressing and sealing trash away from view, adds a higher aesthetic to the cleaning routine. A 'shrink and hide it' strategy is sure to please customers and become a public relations win.

Reduces Environmental Impacts

Lastly, in 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash (Ref. 6), much of it in their workplaces.

Compacting trash at the source reduces the volume of trash going to landfills, as well as the carbon cost related to transporting non-compacted waste.


  1. What Does Cleaning Cost, CMM, 2011
  2. ISSA 612 Cleaning Times, ISSA, 2014
  3. TURI SCL# 2012-19-326-0-4-C Test2012.
  4. Most communities charge … by volume. EPA, 2016.
  5. Compaction Technologies, Inc., Retrieved March, 2018.
  6. Municipal Solid Waste, EPA, 2013
Allen Rathey

Allen Rathey

Allen Rathey is the principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), director of the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC), and author of articles about best practices in cleaning and indoor environmental management.

*The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) and the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC) do not endorse products.

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