Downtown El Paso, Texas is installing 73 solar-powered, compacting trash cans in order to cut down on labor costs traditionally involved in trash removal. The city is shelling out $292,000 on the garbage cans — which cost $4,000 a pop and will replace 40% of the trash receptacles in their downtown area — and expects to cut down its trash collection frequency from 14 times weekly to just 2 times. Though it’s great they are using renewable energy to power these trash machines, we’re thinking they could have used that $292,000 on programs that could teach their residents to create less trash in the first place — or perhaps install more recycling bins to turn that trash back into treasure.

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The money for the solar-powered trash compacting bins comes from cash given to El Paso from the Federal Government as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Though, we’ll concede that using solar-power to compact your trash is much better than using most other electricity from the grid, we at Inhabitat feel you could find a better green purpose for cash from the government.

Perhaps, El Paso could have put $292,000 worth of solar panels on their buildings to cut down on the grid power usage for the city. The city already has a curbside recycling program for residents, but we’ve all still got a long way to go to change our minds about the waste problem in this country. Squishing your trash with solar power to make it take up less space isn’t going to help change citizen’s wasteful behaviors. Putting nice blue recycling bins next to all of El Paso’s trash bins downtown could be an even bigger step than their $4,000 compactors — and it would come at a fraction of the cost.

Via KTSM Online