Finding the Perfect Fit: How to Choose the Right Size Compactor

Right Size Compactor

Waste management is one of the most demanding professions. Whether working as a private or a government waste management professional, you are required to deliver high-quality work. Human and environmental safety is the main focus in waste management. To achieve required factors of safety, the use of machines and equipment is recommended.

One of the most mechanized stages of waste management is compaction; for less volume of collected waste. The quality of compaction works depends on the choice of equipment. This article focuses on selection techniques for compactors. It outlines tips and considerations to help you select the right compactor for your waste management needs.

What is a compactor

A compactor is a piece of equipment; mechanized or non-mechanized that is used to compress material to required densities and volumes. Compactors comprise of a force generation mechanism and an impact interface that transmits the compaction force onto the material. For non-mechanized compactors, the compaction force could be from human power or the weight of the compaction interface; e.g., a heavy object.

Mechanized compactors are the most common and ideal for medium to large scale compaction needs. The compaction force generator in these compactors could be an engine or an electric motor. There are different types of compactors depending on the force generation mechanism and compaction interface. Popular ones are discussed in detail below.

  • Plate compactors- These are engine or electric compactors with a flat rectangular steel plate at the bottom. The plate comes in contact with the material under compaction and exerts force by vibrations generated by the engine or motor.
  • Rammer compactors- Rammer compactors are known for maneuverability in tight spaces such as trenches and narrow corridors. They are either engine driven or electric with square steel bottom; the foot. The foot moves up and down at a high frequency to compact material. Rammer compactors are handheld and vary in size depending on the manufacturer and engine sizes.
  • Roller compactors- This type of compactors has steel rollers that come in contact with material for compaction. Roller compactors use the weight of the rollers and force generated by the engine or motor to exert compaction force. Roller compactors are further classified as pneumatic and vibratory rollers. Pneumatic rollers use hydraulic pressure to generate compaction force while vibratory rollers rely on the mass and vibrations of the roller.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Compactor

Factors to consider when choosing a compactor

Waste management needs are varied; hence the varied compaction needs. For effective compaction, you must select the right compactor for the project at hand. There are several factors to consider when selecting compactors, they include;

  • Amount and type of waste generated- The amount of waste generated dictates the size of compactors to use. Where the rate waste generation is high, heavy compactors with high working capacity are needed. The compactors keep the waste volumes low to create more space for additional waste. Whether the waste is toxic or non-toxic determines the use of driven or hand-held compactors. Handheld compactors are unsuitable for toxic wastes as the operator is at risk of contamination. Wastes with high moisture content are compacted with rollers as they minimize spreading of contaminants.
  • Space availability- Compactor size and type is selected depending on the available working space. In tight spaces when maneuverability is a challenge, rammer compactors are the most suitable. If the area under compaction is enclosed, electric compactors are used to avoid accumulation of engine fumes.
  • Frequency of waste collection- How long waste stays in a place determines the degree of compaction needed. Where the frequency of waste collection is low, a higher degree of compaction is needed to create enough space and maintain a safe density. Heavy compactors are suitable in areas where waste collection is done seldomly.
  • Budget- Economic feasibility is important in waste management. Processes, including compaction need to be done within the budget for sustainability. The cheapest and available compactor that can deliver the needed compaction should be selected over any other option.
  • Environmental considerations- Waste management is geared towards environmental conservation. Management processes, including compaction should be eco-friendly. Fuel efficient compactors with noise reduction features should be prioritized for waste compaction projects. Thanks to technological advancements, electric compactors are available for different degrees of compaction.

Determining The Size of Compactor Needed

Determining the size of compactor needed

Having the right size of a compactor for waste management is critical. The compactor should be ideal for the volume of waste generated to avoid accumulation of waste and overworking the compactor.

There are several methods of determining the volume and density of waste generated. Factors such as population and availability of shared amenities such as public parks are used to project possible waste generation. However, the most common way to tell the volume of waste is multiplying the horizontal area covered by the waste by its vertical height. Dividing the mass of the waste by its volume will give you the density. For small volumes, the mass can be measured by weighing scales. Weigh bridges are used to tell the mass of large volumes of waste collected on trucks.

Compactors exist in varied capacities. Based on volume, compactor capacities vary between 15 and 40 cubic yards. When selecting a compactor, choose one that either matches or exceeds the available waste volume and density. Lower volume compactors lead to accumulation of waste and may be overworked.

Benefits of Choosing the Right Compactor

Benefits of choosing the right compactor

Efficient compaction is the main benefit of choosing the right compactor. With a compactor that matches the waste volume and density, it is easier to attain the needed compaction density. Consequently, you save on operation and maintenance costs since compaction is completed on time without overworking the compactor.

Hauling waste to disposal areas is costly. Having the right waste compactor helps reduce the waste volume; leaving you with space for additional waste storage. As a waste management practice, efficient compaction keeps the environment waste free. Having the right compactor prevents the spread of contaminants; especially when handling toxic wastes.


Waste compaction is an essential aspect of waste management. However, it is most efficient when done with the right compactor. There are several types of compactors, these include; rammer compactors, plate compactors, and roller compactors. Selecting a compactor depends on the volume and density of waste generated, frequency of waste generation, budget, and environmental concerns. The selected compactor should either match or exceed the volume and density of generated waste for efficiency.

Where one lacks adequate information on which compactor to select, contacting experts is recommended. Waste management experts will provide information on legal regulations and recommend the right compactor depending on the type of waste.