Philadelphia Rolls Out Solar-Powered Trash Compactors

by , 05/28/09
filed under: Uncategorized

sustainable design, green design, philadelphia, big belly, solar compacting trash cans, alternative energy, waste reduction, green technology

People wandering the streets of Philadelphia may be surprised to see brand new solar-studded trash cans being installed on the sidewalks. These new landfill-crunching compacting bins are entirely powered by the sun and are able to accept close to eight times as much waste as a regular trash can. Pretty cool, we thought – especially once we found out that they are calling the new bins Big Bellys and that they stand to save the city close to 12 million dollars over 10 years!

sustainable design, green design, philadelphia, big belly, solar compacting trash cans, alternative energy, waste reduction, green technology

The first Big Belly was recently inaugurated by Mayor Nutter at 15th Street and JFK boulevard at JFK Plaza. Over 500 of the units will be installed by July, with 210 of those featuring an additional recycling bin component, a first for the city. Since the compacting bins only have to be emptied 5 times per week (verses regular bins which must be emptied 19 times), the city stands to save big on staff time, fuel costs, and greenhouse gas emissions

Philly is not the only city with a Big Belly – the machines are also popping up in Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania, Chicago’s Millenium Park and Boston’s Fenway Park.

+ Big Belly Solar


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  1. liam September 6, 2010 at 1:16 am

    That’s good idea,can be saving money and save green.
    so,we also can do advertising trash can(,welcome…

  2. May 31, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    As a Philadelphian, I’m pleased to see an alternative to the current system (trash cans constantly overflowing with litter) that includes recycling! It’s only a matter of time, though, before the solar panels get covered up with graffiti and stickers…meaning this potentially will cost more when you factor in the maintainence.

    FYI, both Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are located in Philly.

  3. sixpackistan May 29, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    All in all, if the city were interested in keeping costs low it would investigate trimming down it’s huge fleet of cars which employees use for personal use, turning off the lights in municipal buildings and schools when employees are gone, switching out all incandescent bulbs in city owned properties and in traffic and street lights, retrofitting municipal buildings with timed thermostats and moving court and administration offices out of city hall which is an environmental nightmare in its own right. This kind of eco-babble-green-energy-bullshit is just a distraction from solving real energy problems with real simple and cheap solutions that don’t require the taxpayers to shell out millions of dollars. Just because the city says it will save 12 million over 10 years doesn’t mean it will save a dime at all. The only thing we know for certain is that they have wasted time and energy solving a problem that wasn’t demanding a solution because some sales guy with a fancy trashcan got under the skin of the right group of politicians.

  4. hankchapot May 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I am a gardener at University of California, bur we also empty trash cans and the lifting is injuring the workers, shoulders, back injuries, etc. Now, increase the weight by 8X and you’ll need another method than one person lifting.

  5. bnlaneville May 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    These have also been in select locations around Chattanooga for some time. I think the savings estimate is a very liberal. I also believe that savings is before the cost of the cans are calculated. Also the cheapest “Big Belly” that I could locate was $1,400+ (not the ones pictured.) Though the system that they have pictured is about $5800, though they may have got them for the manufacturer at a lower cost. If the system they are using is the aluminum recycling bin that obviously would generate some revenue along with advertisements on the side panels (along with generating more waste.)

    Cost of Double Units: $1,218,000 @ MSRP (210 UNITS)
    Cost of Single Units: $1,340,090 @ MSRP (290 UNITS)
    COST OF AD PANELS: $52,500 @ MSRP (500 SETS)
    Total: $2,610,590

  6. westhomas May 29, 2009 at 10:25 am

    I’ve been wondering about these things.. been seeing them a couple of weeks now.

    Awesome implementation, and the reduction of labor involved is probably a bigger savings than it may seem at first.

  7. koloraro May 29, 2009 at 9:22 am

    And.. how much costs every \”big-belly\” ?

  8. v8media May 28, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I think labor costs, fuel costs, and dump costs over the whole of a city could easily make up a million dollars.

    Just a note that these have been in Seattle for a while now. Not sure when they showed up though.


  9. CHMMX May 28, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Abilene, Texas (a city near where I live) installed a few downtown a couple of months ago, I’m gonna go down there one of these days just to see them.

  10. iclimb4me May 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I’d like to find out how it’s going to save the city over a million dollars every year. I understand that the labor to pick up the garbage comes with a price, but for curious purposes, were might these other savings come from???

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