Who Invented the Trash Compactor

Who invented the trash compactor? Like many other inventions, the modern equipment you know today didn't come from a single source. Many people had a hand in developing the trash compactor.

The Industrial Compactor
The first trash compactors weren't residential devices designed to make a homeowner's garbage more compact; they were used in industrial and commercial applications. The first industrial compactor dates back to 1941, when a patent was filed by M.S. Wells for a device intended to crush oil cans. This is the first recorded instance of a patent filed for something resembling a trash compactor, although the invention itself may have been around much longer in an undocumented form.

The Kitchen Trash Compactor
It wasn't until the 1970s that someone created a home trash compactor. In 1968, John A. Boyd filed the first patent for a household trash compactor. Boyd's design used hydraulic pressure from a direct water connection to crush the garbage and make a compact bundle for homeowners to throw away.

Boyd's home trash compactor wasn't the only attempt at small-scale trash compacting. In 1966, Stephen Hopkins submitted a patent for a different type of trash compactor for apartment and office use. This version was more commercial than the residential compactor proposed by Mr. Boyd, as it had an encased hydraulic unit that didn't require a direct water connection.

Improvements and Variations
John Bauer patented an update to the trash compactor in 1991. This version of the kitchen trash compactor had two compartments, so that residents could separate recyclable and non-recyclable garbage. In 1992, Ray Lackner released a trash compactor that could compress trash onto a pre-compressed bail, making it possible to add trash to the compactor as it's created instead of bailing it all at once. He updated his compactor design in 1997.

In 1999, trash compactors underwent another growth spurt, with the development of new technology designed to compress and bail garbage. The new technology was more efficient and made trash compactors more practical for residential use.

Modern Touches
Modern trash compactors follow the general trend for all technology: smaller, more functional and quieter. Residential models can now handle wet and dry material and even control odors.

A new breed of trash compactor has also debuted. In American cities from coast to coast, solar-powered trash compactors have replaced trash cans in parks and on sidewalks. These machines require no electricity, reduce the volume of material sent to landfills and require fewer visits from city sanitation workers.

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