advanced energy in action

Solar Powered and Wired Trash Bins

BigBelly Solar – founded in Massachusetts in 2003 – developed a trash can about the size of a U.S. Postal Service mailbox that holds up to five times as much trash as a normal trash bin and transmits a signal through high-tech sensors to let sanitation workers know how full it is.

Across the world, there are more than 15,000 of these “BigBellys” in use that keep diesel-guzzling garbage trucks off the streets while cutting costs for cash-strapped municipalities. The compactors use off-grid solar power to support their low power sensors, compaction system, and bi-directional communications systems for real-time reporting on a bin’s capacity. By allowing municipalities to service the BigBellys only when they are full, they are saving hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel annually across all BigBelly units.

The information gained from each compactor allows waste managers to optimize collection schedules and routes. In Philadelphia, BigBellys have saved the city nearly $900,000 on collections in their first year of use by reducing pickups from three times each weekday to less than three times a week. Recently, BigBelly Solar was awarded the Best Project Award at the Second Annual World Smart Cities Awards, in conjunction with the Smart City Expo in Barcelona, Spain.

The kiosks also can include built-in billboards that can be used for educating the public about the benefits of composting and recycling, as well as how to appropriately sort waste materials into the containers. BigBellys are also made in the United States, with production in Kentucky and Vermont in addition to roughly 40 employees at the company’s headquarters in Massachusetts. BigBelly’s trash bins represent the best in advanced energy – a product that is solar powered, wireless and data-driven that saves money, reduces energy waste, and keeps cities cleaner.

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