Are You Smarter Than A Trash Can?

Walking through Boston earlier this week I came across an unusually large trash receptacle. When I went closer to inspect it (throw out my trash) I noticed that it was compactor designed for sustainability.  Besides having a function to compact the trash which would require less pickups, the cans also had solar panels to be self reliant.

BigBelly Solar, the company responsible for these innovative trash cans, was founded in 2003 with “the goal of transforming one of the least efficient and resource-intensive industries on the planet — waste collection. Cities were either collecting too often and wasting fuel and labor while creating CO2 emissions or they were not able to keep up with the demands and overflowing trash cans created litter, health and safety issues. ” BigBelly Solar wanted to fix these issues by inventing a smarter, more efficient, method for collecting trash in cities.

The BigBelly Solar compactors are smart include sensors and a wireless card that tracks the fullness of the compactors. Status updates are sent to the Streets Department so that trash is picked up or fixed when needed.

The city of Philadelphia started replacing traditional cans with BigBelly Solar in 2009 and is now saving 1 million dollars a year. Using trash receptacles that also act as compactors reduced the number of collections needed per week from 17 to 3. This saves money in operational costs and saves in fuel and truck costs.

Though Americans need to cut down on their consumption and the trash they produce, at least BigBelly Solar is providing a more efficient way of handling it. Adopting smarter technologies like BigBelly Solar is a step forward.

Trash Can via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Saturday, July 12th, 2014 at 10:20
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