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(written from a Production point of view)
According to the Star Trek: The Motion Picture shooting script, a scrap metal compactor was a mechanical device aboard the refitted USS Enterprise which was used for compacting scrap metal. After the Ilia probe remarked that it was illogical for carbon-based lifeforms to have control over the starship's power systems, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott retorted, "Lassie, if I was functioning 'logically', right now I'd be showing you the inside of our scarp metal compactor!" This scene was cut from the theatrical film.