Title:
REFUSE DISPOSAL APPARATUS AND METHODS OF USING SAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus that can be used for packaging refuse, such as soiled diapers, for disposal or items, such as food and medicine, for storage can comprise a receptacle having an upper open end, a cover connected proximate the upper end of the receptacle, and a rotatable tube mounted on a pair of bosses carried by the receptacle. The rotatable tube can carry a roll of linearly attached disposable bags for receiving refuse and the like. Sealing means can be provided for sealing at least one of the disposable bags after receiving refuse or other item to be packaged. A suction motor can be provided in communication with the disposable bags to vacuum air out of the disposable bag. A cutting assembly can be connected to the cover for cutting the disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags.



Inventors:
Place, Randall C. (US)
Johnson, Michael A. (US)
Breuker, Kevin S. (Hudsonville, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/246746
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
10/07/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/479, 53/512, 53/552, 53/329.3
International Classes:
B65B9/12; B65B31/00; B65B51/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DESAI, HEMANT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ASHLEY LAW FIRM P.C. (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for packaging objects, comprising: (a) a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags, wherein a first one of the disposable bags is positioned to receive a first object; (b) vacuum means for vacuuming air from the first disposable bag after receiving the first object; (c) sealing means for sealing the first disposable bag after receiving the first object; and (d) a cutting assembly adapted for cutting the first disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags after receiving the object, and whereby a second disposable bag is positioned to receive a second object.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the apparatus is adapted for packaging malodorous refuse for disposal of said refuse.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the plurality of disposable bags are adapted for containing soiled diapers.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the apparatus is adapted for packaging perishable items for storage of said items.

5. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the plurality of disposable bags are adapted for containing one or more selected from the group consisting of food and medication.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of disposable bags are rolled on a tube, whereby the first bag is pulled down from the tube into position to receive the first object.

7. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the second bag is pulled down from the tube into position to receive the second object after the first bag has been cut from the plurality of disposable bags rolled on the tube by the cutting assembly.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the vacuum means comprises a suction motor in communication with the plurality of disposable bags.

9. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the sealing means comprises a heat sealing module operatively connected to the plurality of disposable bags.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the cutting assembly comprises a slide cutter handle, and a cutting wheel operatively connected to the plurality of disposable bags.

11. An apparatus for disposing refuse comprising: (a) a receptacle having an upper open end for receiving refuse; (b) a cover connected proximate the upper end of the receptacle; (c) a rotatable tube mounted on a pair of bosses carried by the receptacle for carrying a roll of linearly attached disposable bags for receiving refuse; (d) sealing means for sealing at least one of the disposable bags after receiving refuse; (e) a suction motor in communication with the disposable bags adapted for vacuuming air out of the at least one disposable bag after receiving refuse; and (f) a cutting assembly connected to the cover for cutting the at least one disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags.

12. An apparatus according to claim 11, further comprising a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags adapted for containing soiled diapers, and rolled onto the rotatable tube, wherein a first one of the disposable bags is pulled downward to hang within the interior of the receptacle whereby a first soiled diaper can be positioned within said first bag.

13. An apparatus according to claim 12, the suction motor vacuums air out of the first bag containing the soiled diaper, and the sealing means seals said first bag containing.

14. An apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the cutting assembly cuts the first bag from the plurality of linearly attached bags after the first bag has been vacuumed and sealed, whereby the first bag drops into the receptacle and a second one of the plurality of disposable bags can be pulled downward to hang within the interior of the receptacle to receive a second soiled diaper.

15. An apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the sealing means comprises a heat sealing module connected to the cover.

16. An apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the cover is pivotally connected to the receptacle, and further comprising a transparent window formed in the cover.

17. An apparatus according to claim 11, wherein the cutting assembly comprises a cutting wheel axially positioned within a slide cutter handle, and the slide cutter handle is positioned within a linear track formed in the cover.

18. An apparatus according to claim 11, further comprising a retaining rim mounted on the upper open end of the receptacle for maintaining a trash bag in an upright and open position within the receptacle.

19. An apparatus according to claim 11, further comprising: (a) an air conduit positioned in the receptacle and in communication with the disposable bags and the suction motor; (b) an air filter in communication with the air conduit, whereby air vacuumed from the at least one disposable bag flows through the filter; and (c) an air removal activation button pivotally mounted on the cover and operatively connected to the suction motor whereby pressing the activation button activates the suction motor.

20. A method for disposing of a soiled diaper comprising the steps of: (a) providing a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags, wherein a first one of the disposable bags is positioned to receive a soiled diaper; (b) depositing the soiled diaper in the first disposable bag; (c) vacuuming air from the first disposable bag containing the soiled diaper; (d) sealing the first disposable bag containing the soiled diaper; and (e) detaching the first disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a system that can be used in the disposal of refuse, as well as packaging of items for storage. One embodiment of the invention includes an apparatus that can be used to dispose of malodorous items, such as soiled diapers.

Disposal of malodorous refuse, such as used diapers, is a common household problem. When deposited in conventional garbage containers, the pungent odor of the soiled diapers tends to permeate throughout the room in which the container resides, causing the room and often the entire home to have a foul odor. This problem is compounded in places such as day care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes, where a large number of diapers and/or incontinence products are being used at once. Also, taking the soiled diapers directly to a trash container located outside the home immediately after use is not a convenient option for parents and other care givers, particularly those caring for one or more children, with no other care givers present. Furthermore, when such soiled diapers are immediately disposed in a trash container left outdoors, the odors emanating from an outdoor trash container, which typically collects trash for periods of a week or more before emptying, can become very pungent in the outdoor heat. As such, an outdoor container left inside a garage or out in the heat can become just as maladorous and bothersome as an indoor container with traditional disposal systems.

A variety of covered containers have been developed particularly for containing used diapers. However, such containers typically provide only a brief respite from the foul odor of the used diapers, and the odor ultimately permeates through the container and throughout the home, particularly after the container has been opened several times to deposit additional diapers. This problem also exists with trash cans left outdoors as noted above.

SUMMARY OF OBJECTS AND EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, an object of the present invention is to provide a system for disposing malodorous refuse that minimizes the escape of odors from the system. Another object of the present invention is to provide refuse disposal system that can be used to dispose used diapers.

These and other objects of the present invention can be achieved in the preferred embodiments of the invention described below. In one embodiment of the invention, an apparatus for packaging objects comprises a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags, and the first one of the disposable bags is positioned to receive an object to be packaged. After receiving the object, air is vacuumed from the first disposable bag, and the bag is sealed. A cutting assembly cuts the first disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags after receiving the object, so that a second disposable bag can be positioned to receive an additional object.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the apparatus is adapted for packaging malodorous refuse for disposal.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the plurality of disposable bags are for containing soiled diapers.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the apparatus is adapted for packaging perishable items for storage.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the plurality of disposable bags are adapted for containing food and/or medication.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the plurality of disposable bags are rolled on a tube, so that the first bag is pulled down from the tube into position to receive an object, such as a soiled diaper.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a second bag is pulled down from the tube into position to receive another object after the first bag has been cut from the plurality of disposable bags rolled on the tube by the cutting assembly.

According to another embodiment of the invention, air is vacuumed out of the bags by a suction motor.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the bags are sealed by a heat sealing module.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the cutting assembly includes a slide cutter handle, and a cutting wheel operatively connected to the plurality of disposable bags.

According to another embodiment of the invention, an apparatus for disposing refuse comprises a receptacle having an upper open end for receiving refuse, a cover connected proximate the upper end of the receptacle, and a rotatable tube mounted on a pair of bosses carried by the receptacle for carrying a roll of linearly attached disposable bags for receiving refuse. Sealing means are provided for sealing at least one of the disposable bags after receiving refuse, and a suction motor in communication with the disposable bags vacuums air out of the disposable bag after receiving the refuse. A cutting assembly is connected to the cover for cutting the disposable bag from the plurality of linearly attached disposable bags.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags adapted for containing soiled diapers are rolled onto the rotatable tube, and a first one of the disposable bags is pulled downward to hang within the interior of the receptacle so that a first soiled diaper can be positioned within said first bag.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the suction motor vacuums air out of the first bag containing the soiled diaper and the sealing means seals the bag.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the cutting assembly cuts the first bag from the plurality of linearly attached bags after the first bag has been vacuumed and sealed, so that the first bag drops into the receptacle and a second one of the plurality of disposable bags can be pulled downward to hang within the interior of the receptacle to receive a second soiled diaper.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the sealing means comprises a heat sealing module connected to the cover.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the cover is pivotally connected to the receptacle, and a transparent window is formed in the cover.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the cutting assembly comprises a cutting wheel axially positioned within a slide cutter handle, and the slide cutter handle is positioned within a linear track formed in the cover.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a retaining rim is mounted on the upper open end of the receptacle for maintaining a trash bag in an upright and open position within the receptacle.

According to another embodiment of the invention, an air conduit is positioned in the receptacle in communication with the disposable bags and the suction motor, and an air filter is in communication with the air conduit, so that air vacuumed from the bags flow through the filter. An air removal activation button can be pivotally mounted on the cover, and operatively connected to the suction motor such that pressing the activation button activates the suction motor.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a method for disposing of a soiled diaper includes the steps of providing a plurality of linearly attached disposable bags, in which at least one of the disposable bags is positioned to receive a soiled diaper, and a soiled diaper is deposited in the bag. Air is vacuumed from the disposable bag containing the soiled diaper, the bag is sealed and detached from the rest of the linearly attached disposable bags.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Objects of the invention have been set forth above. Further objects and advantages of the present invention may become apparent as the description of the invention proceeds when taken in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation of a refuse disposal apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 9 is a top view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 10 is a rear perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of the apparatus, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 12 is a partial side schematic view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 is a partial rear perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 14 is a partial rear perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 15 is a partial front perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, shown with the top cover open;

FIG. 16 is a partial side schematic view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 17 is a side environmental view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating a step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 18 is another side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 19 is an environmental perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 20 is a side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 21 is another side environmental view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 22 is a partial exploded view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 23 is a top view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 24 is another partial exploded perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 25 is a partial schematic side view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, illustrating another step in a method of using the apparatus according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 26 is a partial rear perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 27 is a partial exploded view of the apparatus of FIG. 1.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS AND BEST MODE OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals represent like components throughout, an apparatus for disposing refuse according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 1, and shown generally at reference numeral 10. The apparatus 10 generally comprises a cover 30 and a trash bag retaining rim 42, both of which can be pivotally attached to a trash receptacle 40 by means of a pivotal member 35, shown in FIGS. 2-4, 6 and 7. Electrical and mechanical controls, discussed in detail below, are housed within the apparatus 10.

It should be noted that while the apparatus 10 is shown in the drawings and described herein having the cover 30 positioned on the trash receptacle 40, the invention is not so limited. For example, the invention can alternatively be mounted to a wall or set upon a flat surface, and can be used in other applications not involving a trash receptacle.

As shown in FIG. 19, the apparatus can be used to dispose of malodorous refuse, such as soiled diapers 70 of infants, toddlers and/or adults. As shown in FIG. 11, the retaining rim 42 holds the open end of a trash bag 44 from falling into the receptacle 40. A plurality of single use diaper disposal bags 45 are linearly attached and rolled onto a tube 47, shown in FIGS. 11, 19 and 25. The tube is snapped into projected bosses 46 of the retaining rim 42, shown in FIGS. 16, 18 and 27. The first bag 45a is pulled away from the tube and allowed to hang down in the upper center area of the receptacle 40, while remaining connected to the next bag on the roll of bags 45, as shown in FIG. 11.

As shown in FIG. 19, the single use diaper disposal bag 45a is in the hanging state, and a soiled diaper 70 can be inserted into the hanging bag 45a at the open end. As shown in FIGS. 24 and 26, the receptacle 40 can house a power supply 48. The power supply 48 has a power cord 49 which delivers power from an electricity source, such as a household electrical outlet. Further, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the electrical components can be rearranged or positioned elsewhere within the unit.

As shown in FIGS. 25 and 27, the cover 30 houses means for providing a vacuum, such as a suction motor 31. The suction motor 31 can be attached to sealing means for sealing the disposable bags 45, such as a heat sealing module 11. The power supply 48 delivers power to the suction motor 31, and the heat sealing module 11 through an interconnect harness 12. The electrical wires from the power supply 48 to the suction motor 31 and the heat sealing module 11 have sufficient slack to accommodate the relative movement of the cover 30 when rotated to the maximum angle of rotation. As shown in FIGS. 24 and 27, the heat sealing module 11 can be mounted into the slots 13 formed in downwardly extending flanges 39 in the cover 30 by means of a snap feature.

The heat sealing module 11 and the suction motor 31 can be connected by an air conduit 14, as shown in FIG. 25. As the air is removed from the single use disposable diaper bag 45a, it travels thru an air conduit 15 and also an air filter 16. The air filter 16 can be of the charcoal type, or any type that would remove or mask odors.

A slide cutter assembly 17 can be comprised of a slide cutter handle 18 and a cutting mechanism, such as a cutting wheel 19, shown in FIG. 27. The cutting wheel 19 is axially captured inside the slide cutter handle 18. The wheel 19 is free to rotate about its axis. The slide cutter handle 18 is captured in a cutout 38 on the cover 30 allowing only a single axis of travel, as shown in FIG. 23. An inner cover 20, shown in FIGS. 19, 24 and 27, can be fastened to the cover 30 using conventional fasteners.

The plates of the heat sealing module 11 are forced into abutting communication by mechanical linkage 21, shown in FIG. 27, which is moved by the user “U” pushing downward on the air removal activation button 22, as shown in FIG. 21. The air removal activation button 22 can be pivotally mounted to the cover 30 by means of a snap lock flange 23, shown in FIG. 27. A transparent roll view window 24, shown in FIGS. 4, 5, 23 and 27, can be secured to the cover 30 using adhesive. One or more fasteners, such as pins or screws, can be used in a manner well known in the art to further secure the air removal button 22, suction motor 31, heat sealing module 11 or the roll view window 24. In an alternative embodiment, the sealing means can comprise a zip fastener feature at the top opening of the disposable bags 45, such as in the storage bags sold under the mark ZIPLOC. In such an embodiment, pressure is applied to close the top opening of the bags, and air can be removed from bags through a valve built into the bags.

The apparatus 10 can be used for the odorless disposal of soiled diapers for infants, and incontinent adult care accessories. Specifically, the apparatus 10 allows for the odorless disposal of soiled diapers in a sealed plastic bag that is substantially void of air. The apparatus 10 can be mounted on a trash can, wall, changing table or set on a flat surface. A soiled diaper 70 can be inserted into a single use disposable diaper bag 45a. The air is substantially removed from the bag 45a, and sealed. Or alternatively, the bag 45a can be sealed, and then the air is removed. Once the single use disposable diaper bag 45a, and its contents have been packaged, because of the lack of air in the bag, there is minimal or no odor, and the bag can be disposed in any open trash container.

In a preferred method of using the apparatus 10, the user “U” grasps a handle 33 on the cover 30, as shown in FIG. 17, and depresses a release lever to allow the cover 30 to be opened. The cover 30 is opened to about ninety degree or beyond, as shown in FIG. 18. A piece of refuse, such as a soiled diaper 70, is placed in the single disposal bag 45a that has been pulled away from the roll of bags 45, as shown in FIG. 19. The cover 30 is closed on the receptacle 40 so that the latch engages. The user “U” presses the air removal activation button 22, which initiates the packaging process.

In the packaging process, the air is removed in an auxiliary manner from the interior of the disposable diaper bag 35, and the bag 35 is permanently sealed with the heat sealing module 11. This results in a sealed bag, in which the interior is substantially void of air, thereby minimizing the transmission of odor. The slide cutter handle 18 is positioned across the unit 10 to end position, which actuates the cutting wheel 19 to cut off the sealed single use disposable diaper bag 45a from the roll of bags 45. The cut sealed single use disposable diaper bag 45a then drops to the bottom of the receptacle 40.

It should be noted that while the apparatus 10 is described above as being used to package malodorous refuse, such as soiled diapers and the like, for disposal, the invention is not so limited. For example, the apparatus 10 can be used to package perishable items, such as food and medicines, for preservation and storage.

In addition, any sequence and/or temporal order of steps of various processes or methods that are described herein are illustrative and not restrictive. Accordingly, it is to be understood that, although steps of various processes or methods may be shown and described as being in a sequence or temporal order, the steps of any such processes or methods are not limited to being carried out in a particular sequence or order, and the steps of such processes or methods may be carried out in various different sequences and orders while still falling within the scope of the present invention.

A refuse disposal apparatus, and methods of using same are described above. Various details of the invention may be changed without departing from its scope. The foregoing description of the invention and the best mode for practicing the invention are provided for the purpose of illustration only and not for the purpose of limitation- the invention being defined by the following claims and equivalents thereof.