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High-tech trash cans cut costs in downtown Raleigh

Posted April 1, 2013

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— City of Raleigh employee Bobby Singleton collects garbage and recycling from public bins all over downtown Raleigh. He remembers how long it used to take him to do his job.

“Every can I had out here, I had to stop by,” he said.

But the Big Belly cans bounced into town and changed everything.

The large, solar-powered cans automatically compact trash and recyclables, and they send workers an email when they're full.

A grant from the U.S. Department of Energy paid for about 40 cans that were placed downtown in a pilot study last year.

The cans cost about $7,000 each, said Bianca Howard, a community education specialist with the city’s Solid Waste Services department. But they ultimately save taxpayers money because they need to be collected less often, she said.

During the pilot program, the city replaced 32 traditional open-top cans along Fayetteville Street with 10 Big Belly stations and reduced costs from $40,903 to $1,607 for the year. In the Glenwood South area, collection costs were decreased from $12,056 annually to $115.

Big Belly trash cans Raleigh goes green, saves green with high-tech trash cans

Singleton says it used to take three trucks a day to keep the cans on Fayetteville Street clean. Now, workers need just one truck.

“It cut back a lot of manpower, a lot of time,” he said.

The cans also are clearly marked for recycling, which a private company pays the city to collect.

“Not only do we avoid the cost of throwing those materials in the landfill, we actually bring in revenue for the city,” Howard said.

She said more of these high-tech trash cans could be coming to high-traffic pedestrian areas, city parks and greenways - helping people go green while saving some serious green.

21 Comments

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  • rocket Apr 2, 2013

    "I can buy the same house in my hometown for the same price but I would probably have a tobabacco field in my back yard and a location out on some backroad."

    I'll take that over living in the city any day. Or having a 1/4 acre lot in a development.

  • aightCPA Apr 2, 2013

    Raleigh Rocks 1 - "I am amazed at how expensive Raleigh and the state of is to live here. I went to Tenn. for Easter, gas cheaper and no state tax. Family member bought a 4200sf nice house with pool on 1.5 acre for 200k."

    Why don't you go move there then. I know why, because the town is probably terrible and old folky and the jobs and pay are terrible. I can buy the same house in my hometown for the same price but I would probably have a tobabacco field in my back yard and a location out on some backroad.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Apr 2, 2013

    great, so the city can reduce our taxes right?

    I am amazed at how expensive Raleigh and the state of is to live here. I went to Tenn. for Easter, gas cheaper and no state tax. Family member bought a 4200sf nice house with pool on 1.5 acre for 200k.

    Tired of my cash going to government instead of me and my family.

  • rocket Apr 2, 2013

    "they dont use fossil fuels and they are built with grants from socialist Dept of Energy !!"

    If they are really saving the city that much money, why does the city need grants from the feds to build them? Why should tax payers across the country be paying for Raleigh's garbage? It sounds like this is a good technology. I just don't understand why it is the place of the feds to fund it.

  • thegerm Apr 2, 2013

    Anyone see an issue with the compacting of trash that will reduce the speed to which it breaks down?

  • Scubagirl Apr 2, 2013

    "The grant came from the taxpayers money so I want to know how much I paid for each can and how many did I buy. sunshine1040"

    Well now sunshine, if you would have READ the article you would see that 'you' (and the other taxpayers) paid $7000.00 a piece for 10 cans.....

  • royalnc Apr 2, 2013

    Looks like the Fayetteville Street project will have less than a 2-year payback period. That's a great deal for the taxpayer.

  • CrazyFoxofCary Apr 1, 2013

    Hey folks, be glad it's only $70K.... here in Cary that's pocket change.... look at the $$$ spent on those ugly electronic signs they rarely used and are now taking down. At least in Raleigh they are actually using these garbage cans...

  • sunshine1040 Apr 1, 2013

    The grant came from the taxpayers money so I want to know how much I paid for each can and how many did I buy

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Apr 1, 2013

    CarZin - "Personally, I'd rather keep the money in the community and pay people to check the trash cans rather than sending the money out of the state (likely) to some other manufacturer."

    Great point!

    But Raleigh and NC often use out-of-state vendors (auditors, investigators, architects, etc. etc.) for work in-state, even when there are applicable and appropriate vendors right here to do it which has always been insane to me.

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