Balers or Trash Compactors?

At first glance, trash compactors and trash balers seem to accomplish the same task: They reduce the overall volume of waste materials generated by a business or organization. However, a close look at balers and trash compactors reveals that they actually serve very different purposes. Before you invest in the rental or purchase of a baler or compactor, make sure you know the facts about what they do and what they are most suitable for.

Trash Compactors

Accurate Trash Compactor

Compactors do exactly what their name implies: compact trash. By reducing the volume of waste materials, your trash will take up less space, which can be a critical issue in areas where space is at a premium. Trash compactors also reduce the frequency that trash needs to be collected compared to when more conventional trash solutions — such as dumpsters, trash bins, or other containers — are used. Compaction is also a more green approach to dealing with trash because of the reduced volume — less volume means less landfill space is required. Compactors can also be used to reduce odor and encourage a more sanitary approach to trash processing.

Compactors work with soft waste as well as cardboard, hard plastics, and most metals.  Models are available which can prevent not just leaks but odors as well, which can discourage the activity of rodents, flies, and other scavengers. There are also a wide variety of compactor sizes available, as well as different configurations (e.g., vertical or horizontal) and specialized designs for materials such as tires and other bulky items. 

Cardboard compactors are ideal for businesses that generate a great deal of cardboard waste. Commercial compactors are available which can handle up to 15 tons of trash and food waste. These commercial compactors seal the compacted waste so that it does not leak or generate leachate. Industrial compactors deal with heavier duty, bulky trash.



Balers are used to bale, or bundle, trash (including cardboard, paper, plastics, and some metals) or recyclable materials together. The design of trash balers was no doubt inspired by hay balers, which place hay into bales/bundles that are easy to move. The same is true for trash bales: they are easier to handle than loose trash. There are other benefits to balers, as well. Trash that has been baled takes up less space than it would in a dumpster or bin, is more cost-effective than traditional waste hauling, and if the materials are recyclable it can result in a revenue stream. Balers work especially well for recyclable materials such as cardboard and paper.

Balers are available in a wide range of sizes for different applications, and, like compactors, can be obtained in different orientations (e.g., vertical, horizontal, and stockroom). There are specialty balers available for materials such as foam waste, stainless steel, aluminum siding, radiators, and bottles or cans. The baled waste materials from the baler will have a consistent size and shape after processing, too.

Similarities between Compactors and Balers

Both compactors and balers can reduce the volume of waste materials, although compactors do achieve more volume reduction because they have far more power. This is the primary similarity between these two trash handling methods. Both compactors and balers can be used for compacting materials for recycling; however, you don’t want to mix cardboard with organic waste, and there are some compactors designed specifically for cardboard as opposed to a commercial or industrial compactor. Because they can both reduce the volume of the trash, they can both contribute to less frequent waste pickup.

Differences between Compactors and Balers

Here are the major differences between compactors and balers:

plastic recycling
  • Trash compactors deal primarily with unsorted waste, while balers usually require that the waste be sorted (especially for balers working with recyclable materials).
  • Most compacted waste is taken to a landfill instead of recycled, whereas most baled waste materials are intended for recycling.
  • In general, trash compactors are typically smaller than a baler that has a similar capacity.
  • Balers are not made for use with organic waste, whereas certain compactor models are ideal for working with organic waste.
  • Balers require more manual labor than trash compactors, including presorting of materials and removal of the bales from the machine.

As you can see, the differences between compactors and balers outnumber their similarities and have a major impact on what type of waste materials they are suitable for.


If you have waste materials that can be recycled, such as waste paper, cardboard, or recyclable plastic materials, then a baler is an ideal solution. It will effectively reduce the volume of those materials and bind them together into bales of consistent shape and size for pickup and delivery to a recycling processor. On the other hand, if the waste materials are organic in nature, a mix of materials that includes some that are non-recyclable, or if you do not have the time or staff available to quickly sort materials, then a trash compactor would be a better option. Trash compactors are available that not only reduce the volume of waste materials but can seal the compact waste to prevent odors, leaks, and rodent activity.

Accurate Recycling

At Accurate Recycling, we will provide you with the right recycling baler or trash compactor to suit your waste removal needs. From small cardboard balers to large industrial trash compactors, we have a range of machines and services to go with them. Contact us today and we’ll help you decide on the optimal waste removal and recycling options for your home or business.