Must-Have Attachments for Waste, Recycling and Scrap

The most common machines used in waste, recycling and scrap applications are hydraulic excavators, wheeled excavators and medium wheel loaders. Each type excels in different jobs. And with the right array of Cat® attachments, you can extend each machine’s capabilities in waste, recycling and scrap applications.

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

Getting the right machine for the jobs you do is your first step toward taking on waste and recycling work. And having the right waste and recycling attachments on hand can supercharge your machine’s capabilities and let you take on more work for more profit. 

Hydraulic excavators, wheeled excavators and medium-sized wheel loaders are the most popular machines for waste and recycling work today. Adding a few powerful attachments to your arsenal can easily let you do more, varied jobs -– all with a single machine. Adding attachments to your business makes more economic sense than buying a second machine to do a job — or losing money by subcontracting that work out to someone else. When you invest in a few attachments, you not only make your single machine, or machine fleet, more versatile, you also make yourself more profitable in the long run. Here’s how to match the right machine with the attachments you need.



If you don’t already have a coupler, you may want to add one to your excavator or wheel loader. Couplers let you switch attachments easily without having to hammer out a pin. Caterpillar has these types: 

  • Pin grabber coupler for hydraulic excavators: Drop one attachment or bucket and pick up another in seconds.

  • Standard and hydraulic connecting S-type (HCS) couplers for excavators: The HCS series connects your machine’s hydraulics and electronics. It delivers high-flow capacity and low back pressure to reduce fuel burn and improve productivity. Standard S-type couplers are dedicated, pin-grabber style couplers that offer a consistently tight fit to the attachment.

  • FusionTM quick coupler for medium wheel loaders: This quick coupler pulls the bucket or tool tight to the loading arms. Wedges lock the coupler to the tool and keep it secure. It can be used with buckets, blades, forks and other attachments.



Both tracked or wheeled hydraulic excavators can be paired with a wide range of attachments beyond buckets to take on even difficult waste and recycling jobs. With so many Cat® attachment choices, it’s important to understand what each tool does to figure out if it’s right for your business. 

Contractors' Grapples

These can tackle demolition, material handling and sorting, and loading and unloading materials such as rock, scrap, pipe, waste and debris. Contractors’ grapples fit excavators from 7 to 74 tons (6.4-67 metric tons).  
The design, using two upper teeth and three lower teeth, efficiently captures material. No added hydraulics needed: The grapple is controlled by the bucket cylinders.

Demolition and Sorting Grapples

Cat demolition and sorting grapples are for fast, productive material handling. They are great for high-volume, production loading and precise sorting.

Orange Peel Grapples

These grapples have four hydraulic tines that penetrate deep into scrap piles. They grab tight to move the most material possible with every pass. You can expect excellent productivity and efficiency in dense material.

Trash Grapples

The faster you clean up, the sooner you’re paid. For light-duty land clearing, trash handling, brush, rubbish, low density materials and jobsite cleanup, trash grapples for excavators use a four-on-five tooth design. Retain more material with the curved box section body.  

Capacity ranges from 4.5 to 6 cubic yards (3.4-4.6 cubic meters). No additional hydraulics needed: The grapple is controlled by the bucket cylinders.


Orange peel grapple

Orange Peel Grapples


Multi-processors are ideal for mixed waste materials, including concrete and scrap metal. They have powerful, hydraulically actuated crusher jaws that can pulverize concrete and reduce scrap metal to manageable sized pieces. Fast production times, and interchangeable, quick-change jaw assemblies, mean you can work fast in a variety of materials and applications.


These attachments quickly process both large, and smaller, pieces of concrete in recycling applications.

Primary pulverizers are for demolishing large concrete structures. Their jaws rotate 360 degrees and are powered by Cat SpeedBooster technology to crush fast and powerfully.  

Secondary pulverizers are for processing smaller concrete pieces and separating rebar. They have nonrotating wide jaws with pick-up tips, large opening, reversible cutting edges and fast closing times for a high return on your investment.



Cat puliverizer attachment


Hydraulic shears cut through anything from structural steel to scrap metal. The powerful, robust design means fast cycle times for high production in harsh working conditions.


Thumbs take your machine from digging to material handling. From picking up whole boulders and land clearing debris to carrying and loading logs, this is the one attachment every excavator should have. This article can help you find the right thumbs for your excavator.



Cat hydraulic shears attachment



Buckets are the most common attachment for wheel loaders. And Caterpillar has two specialized buckets specifically designed for waste and recycling work.

  • Dozing buckets “doze” loads along the floor to a hole or hopper in the floor for below-grade truck loading. They have a shallow throat and tall profile design to give you greatest volume for its size due to the nature of pushing the waste rather than carrying it. Visibility to the load is improved with the use of bars instead of screens.


  • Load and carry buckets are an all-around good solution for waste and recycling work. They are designed to load and carry lightweight material to the haul unit with less contact with the floor. That helps you minimize bucket and floor wear while controlling costs. These buckets are also versatile enough to allow for dozing material, stockpiling and some load compaction. Visibility to the load is improved with the use of bars instead of screens.


Cat forks can be used in many waste and recycling jobs. These include several models of industrial and sorting grapple forks that can clamp down on materials and hold them firmly in place during transport to a haul vehicle or material collection point.

Regardless of the type of waste management or recycling work you’re doing, Caterpillar has both the machine and the attachments to extend your capabilities while making you more productive and more profitable.  

Check out this brochure to learn more about waste and recycling solutions, other attachments and machines, and available technologies.




Caterpillar has the right machine and the right attachments to help you turn trash into cash.



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