Home      About      Contact      Submit an Item      
Passive    PV    Homes    Commercial    Wind    Projects    DIY    Resources    Tools    Materials    
Watch Highline Park Design Thumbnail

Highline Park Fly-Through Animation Design Video

Watch Twelve Essential Steps to Net Zero Energy

Twelve Essential Steps to Net Zero Energy Video

Watch Highline Park NYC Thumbnail

Highline Park NYC Video





If you have or know a solar project, please submit it to us for consideration as a featured project using Submit an Item. http://www.solaripedia.com/302/submit-an-item.html


Solar Power Used to Compact Trash (USA)

Credits: ©2009 Big Belly

Solar-powered trash cans are being installed in cities across the US. These garbage-crunching compacting bins are entirely powered by the sun and are able to accept up to eight times as much waste as a regular trash can. Philadelphia has estimated that these solar units, installed during the summer of 2009, will save the city up to 12 million dollars over 10 years. Philly is using the patented BigBelly® Solar Compactor that takes up as much space as the "footprint" of an ordinary receptacle, but its capacity is five times greater. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut fuel use, labor and greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. While we figure out how to eliminate trash entirely by embracing such concepts as Cradle-to-Cradle, this technology promises to help manage our waste problems.


Solar Trash Compactor along a Park Path

According to Denver Green Initiative Examiner, the green features of the solar trash compactor include: non-toxic paints on its exterior; no lead or chromium is used in the circuit boards; the sealed, no maintenance, rechargeable 12-volt lead battery lasts 4-5 years, can hold reserve power for up to 17 days, and is 100% recyclable; and the ABS plastic used on the unit is made of 80-100% post consumer recycled plastic. BigBelly also qualifies businesses for one LEED credit, which can be the difference between a Silver and a Gold accreditation. In addition, this product is made in Vermont, USA. Holding up to five times the volume of ordinary trash receptacles, the solar-powered compactor has a 150 gallon capacity and exerts 1,200 pounds of force. ©2008 Emily Clark/Gizmag

Denver Green Initiative Examiner published the following article by Michele Melio in June 2009.

The BigBelly Solar trash compactor was being demonstrated at the Colorado University campus in Boulder June 2009. These are the only solar powered trash compactors being manufactured in the world. The biggest customers are cities and universities, which deal with huge amounts of waste.

I met with John Sphatt and Carissa Huster with All Around Recreation. They are the local distributors of the BigBelly solar trash compactors, which just began distributing them a couple of months ago. This is Michele’s article about the solar trash compactors.

What makes this product so green is that it saves schools and municipalities lots of money on fuel and time spent on managing waste. The average American produces 30 pounds of waste each week and if you have watched theNew York Times Internet sleeper hit “The Story of Stuff”, you’ll know that Americans keep only 1% of what they buy every year. If you take in account that we consume 25% of the resources on the planet, yet we’re only 5% of the global population, that’s a huge amount of waste Americans create everyday in comparison to the rest of the world. BigBelly provides part of the waste management solution for America.

This innovative green product saves money by the following: There are fewer garbage pick ups (according to BigBelly the unit has five times the capacity of a typical trash can and can save 80% on fuel costs), fewer or no garbage bags are required (leak proof container holds compacted trash), reduces carbon emissions by relying less on fossil fuels required to pick up waste, fewer materials go into the landfill (especially when it is used with the attached recycling bins), employees can spend less time picking up trash and more time in other important tasks, it receives 100% of its energy from the sun, and it’s a way to create community awareness through sustainable practices.

Its green features are: It has non-toxic paints on its exterior. No lead or chromium is used in the circuit boards. The sealed, no maintenance, rechargeable 12 volt lead battery lasts 4-5 years, can hold reserve power for up to 17 days, and is 100% recyclable. The ABS plastic used on the unit is made of 80-100% post consumer recycled plastic. BigBelly also qualifies businesses for one LEED credit, which can be the difference between a Silver and a Gold accreditation. In addition, this product is made in the state of Vermont right here in the USA.

These units are fully self-contained so snow, rain, and sprinkler water will not soak the refuse. Ski resorts in the mountains, like Vail which has been using them since BigBelly began in 2004, enjoys the animal-proof feature that no bears can get into them.

If the University of Colorado at Boulder does decide to purchase these I told them that the raccoons and squirrels may go on strike. Officials at CU said these animals create a hazard and eat a great deal of waste. I know from my nightly treks across the campus the masked bandits continually stare out at passing pedestrians without fear. Many fat squirrels can also be found roaming around the campus, not to mention a few tubby foxes feeding on the overstuffed rodents.Just like standard trash receptacles, these units are mounted to the ground to prevent trouble makers, no matter the species, from tipping over the units (no guarantees on head on collisions with snow plows and other wayward vehicles). However once trash goes into the compactor it is quite impossible to get it out. If a cell phone is “accidently” dropped into the unit, a waste manager will need to access the compactor with a magnetic key, which opens the unit.

For the tech savvy waste managers, BigBelly offers an additional digital service on the unit which will send a text message reminder to be emptied.The waste manager can also control the compaction level inside the unit and it has LED indicators on the front of the compactor on the compactor’s status.

The compactor is powered by a 30 watt polycrystalline silicon panel made by BP (Beyond Petroleum). The panel is covered by a polycarbonate bubble which is durable and can withstand hail or thrashings by baseball bats from drunken students (not recommended). The compactor does not require any direct sunlight, so it can be placed in shaded areas and works even on cloudy days.

The BigBelly compactor is one of the newest green innovations in the city of Philadelphia, which just purchased 500 units in April. Boston has between 200-300 units. New York City is piloting one in Union Square and Chicago is trying them out in their city parks. While architectural and homeowner associations may have a problem with the aesthetics (just like solar panels, vegetable gardens, swamp coolers, awnings, etc.), the compactor is saving municipalities and schools tax payer dollars not to mention waste, fuel, and time.

Schools that are using the solar compactors are Arizona State University (Pepsi donated six to the school), University of Texas, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. You can already find the solar compactors in Vail, Snowmass, and Durango here in Colorado. The Denver International Airport is also considering these compactors. The University of Colorado at Boulder is contemplating the enticing units, but the cost per unit is $4,000.00 and it’s an additional $970 for each attached recycling bin.

However, all is not lost, according to John Sphatt, there are a number of federal grants that the school and government entities can apply for: Energy and Environmental Block Grant, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy offer programs to help offset upfront costs. The solar trash compactor also qualifies for federal tax credits.

Whether CU buys the solar trash compactor, it boils down to upfront costs versus long term savings and the long term impact carbon emissions and waste has on the environment. This seems to be an underlying international question: Should we pay more upfront to save money, energy, and to protect the environment for the future?

For more info see BigBellywebsite


  Solar Trash Compactor Big Belly Technical Specs (594 kb)

  Solar Trash Compactor Banff Case Study (73 kb)

  Solar Trash Compactor Philadelphia Case Study (1,067 kb)


Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors