January 7, 2010 By Elaine Rundle
Photo: BigBelly Solar Compactor. Photo courtesy of BigBelly.
As local governments seek any and every way to save money during this economic recession, Pasadena, Calif., found that spending extra money on new technologies can sometimes reap cost savings.
Along with local nonprofit Leadership Pasadena, the city participated in a pilot to deploy 12 solar-powered, self-compacting trash bins to city streets. "We discovered that they were very efficient and required very little maintenance," said Gabriel Silva, environmental programs manager for the city's Department of Public Works.
The specialized trash containers - called BigBelly Solar Compactors - can hold up to five times more trash than regular containers, according to the manufacturer, BigBelly Solar. Instead of connect to the power grid, the devices run off solar power.
Because less than 10 percent of the material collected during the pilot was recyclable - most of the trash was soiled papers from fast-food wrappers and drink containers - Silva said the city is using the containers solely for trash disposal.