High-tech trash cans cut costs in downtown Raleigh
Posted April 1, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.