Trash Compactors & Carbon Footprints

monicakm_gwMay 7, 2013

I don't think I've ever posted at the Kitchen Table before. Been here (THS) for 11 years tho :)

If house A and house B both had the exact same amt of garbage in one week but house A had a trash compactor and house B did not, who has the larger carbon footprint OR are they the same? I say theyâÂÂre the same. Same amt of garbage. My husband said house B has the larger carbon footprint. With the trash compactor all the weekâÂÂs garbage is reduced/compacted to a 2.5x2 ft block of trash. Still same amt of trash but does it take up less space in the landfill in the end. Are the bags torn open and separated (glass, plastic, paper)? I like to feel good about hauling out one small compacted bag of trash a week to the curb but am I fooling myself?

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So you don't factor in recycling? Even if your trash company doesn't do it, can't you drop of paper, glass and aluminum at recycling centers?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Live 40 miles from civilization. Do you have any thoughts on my original question?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 1:17AM
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It's not the size of your garbage which determines your carbon footprint, it's the composition of it. "Carbon footprint" refers to the amount of carbon dioxide that would be released by the decomposition of the garbage, and the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the manufacture of the items which ended up in the garbage, not to the amount of space it takes up.
While it is laudable to compact your trash and thus take up less space in landfill, you can reduce your carbon footprint by recycling and reusing, buying locally produced and grown products that require less transportation, and buying products with minimal packaging.

This post was edited by colleenoz on Tue, May 7, 13 at 10:48

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 5:55AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd say, since zero recycling is done, that it is a moot point. It will sit in the landfill no matter how it's delivered. The compacted paper probably sits there longer than the non-compacted stuff.

For your interest, you could call your department of sanitation and ask them what happens to your trash at its destination. Do they like to have the trash compacted or not and why?

So, the food waste and everything else goes into the trash compactor together?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 6:01AM
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I think, it is a moot point... both are the same, compacted or not.

When I lived in the country, (granted, not that far out) I hauled recyclables to town at least once a month.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 6:58AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

A little off topic but we USED to compost. Such stuff as all veggie peels, dinner leftovers, shredded paper, cardboard, newspaper, old cotton, linen, wool, angora, silk fabric (ripped into smaller pieces), and all kinds of garden debris went to the compost pile. By the time we separated the recyclables we could carry our trash to the curb in a paper lunch bag on most weeks.

It was fun, the way a hobby is fun, but it simply took too much time and the charm sort of wore off. Now, we only compost the easy stuff....foods, shredded paper, and garden debris.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:46AM
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rhizo_1 I compost all you mention. It's the best soil amendment you can get.. and it doesn't cost you anything. :)

I also recycle.

I also use cloth shopping bags.

I also re use water, such as from washing dishes, or hand washables, or catching cold till the warm makes it to the sink or shower... and then use that for watering trees and bushes.

I have two HUGE garbage cans, that came with the house. One is used to hold compost, till I need it. :)

and I ride my bike all over town...

off my soap box now....


    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:12PM
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When I have seen compactor bags, they struck me as VERY thick which is not a good thing. I sure do hope you can figure out a way to recycle. Once it becomes habit, it's not as inconvenient as you may think.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 3:20PM
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energy IS used to compact, surely that fits in to it also?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 4:28PM
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When several tons of garbage get dropped on yours, by the end of the month, there probably won't be much difference.

But the uncompacted stuff may require more trips back and forth by the garbage pick-up truck.

I was about to say that the power to run the compactor would add a bit of carbon footprint ... plus a (miniscule) portion of the cost of building the compactor in the first place. They don't just drop ready-made out of thin air.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 7:35PM
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The carbon footprint is a slightly larger at house A with the trash compactor since in this case, refuse from either house is not going to a recycling center. Operating the compactor requires electrical energy and there is a carbon footprint associated with this; House B does not use electrical power on its trash.

However, the difference is tiny and the compacted waste is easier handled.

The carbon footprint does not refer to the size of the garabge pile; it refers to how much carboneaceous fuel that is burned. Burning carbon based fuels generates carbon dioxide, a green house gas. If combustion is not complete, there is also carbon monoxide. A well run power plant emits very little CO and a lot of CO2. There exists technology to scrub CO2 from the exhaust, but it adds considerable cost and maintence.

In this country, coal, oil, and gas are the major fuel sources used for electrical generation. Other sources are nuclear, hydo, wind, and solar but these are minor compared to the first three.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 3:31AM
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Thanks so much for the education on carbon footprints :) Interesting!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:04AM
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If you "haul your garbage to the curb" - you most definitely don't "live 40 miles from civilization"! LOL

I don't even have the option of garbage pickup. I recycle the vast majority of my trash and burn the rest. I have to haul the recycling to the center my self.

I wonder if the compacted garbage has less of an opportunity to decompose? I know somethings really never do though. Or if the movement of garbage by the heavy equipment at the dump would negate that anyway.

Interesting thoughts for sure!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:16AM
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You're right, I don't haul it to the "curb". That would mean I lived on a real street instead of a oil and sand road that that is wide enough for ONE car and is getting more and more narrow over the years as the grass is slowly taking over.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:40AM
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LOL Monica! I live on a real street in that it is paved and upon occasion the state sends a crew out here to mow the edges. Couple of years ago they took out my mailbox, but after I called they put up a new one for me.

I have to haul all my trash and recycling 7 miles away to a "convenience center" (ha!) which has just been re-done with separate places to put absolutely everything--even a special place for "food scraps" if you can believe it. I tell people that the county expects us to wash, dry, iron, and fold our trash, which is closer to the truth than it ought to be.

More than my carbon footprint, I'm worried about when the time comes that I can no longer pick up that big bag of trash and lob it into the container...

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:27AM
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FlamingO in AR

We live out in the woods in the middle of nowhere and could have trash picked up if we were willing to pay their exorbitant fees. Instead, we take it to the country trash compactor, about 25 miles away. We save at least $25 a month by doing that. And we drop off all the recyclable stuff in town, about 15 miles away. We incorporate that into a trip to the vet or for groceries, so we don't make a special trip. And we compost our kitchen scraps and paper.

I would think un-compacted trash would break down faster at the landfill, unless they run it all thru their own compactors first.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 11:23AM
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