A Bright Green Idea: Solar Powered Garbage Cans

If you live in Philadelphia or Boston, chances are you’ve seen these big, black waste collection bins all over the city. You may not realize it, but these new garbage receptacles reduce garbage collection frequency by 80%, cutting down on collection time, money, and fossil fuel use. How does this one innovation make such a difference? It’s solar powered!

Here’s how it works: The solar panel allows the garbage bin to record and distribute information regarding the fullness of the bin. This makes garbage collection an “as-needed” rather than a scheduled process, and it prevents garbage overflow. Big Belly garbage cans also have solar-powered compactors, which allow them to hold about 5 times the amount of waste or recycling as a typical trash can.

The result of these innovations is an “80% reduction in gas-guzzling trash vehicle trips that waste time and fuel, clog streets, pollute the environment, and divert valuable staff time from other priorities.” Also, trash collection vehicles are gas-hogs, getting only 3 miles per gallon, so this reduction generates remarkable energy savings. And Big Belly Solar garbage cans don’t require electricity from an outside source.

Sounds like a bright idea to me. What else could we reinvent with solar power?

Photo by Alvin Smith, via Flickr

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