Going Green With Rubbish Removal


Solar compacting units installed throughout the village

Some of the BigBelly receptacles on Seventh Street next to one of the village’s old garbage cans
(Photo courtesy of the Village of Garden City)

Going green is the approach the Village of Garden City is taking when it comes to certain aspects of garbage collection. The village recently hired BigBelly, the company that manufactures “smart” garbage receptacles that work off of solar power, to install solar compacting units in the business district.
The top of the pail is a solar panel. The pail itself has a compactor built into it. When the garbage reaches a certain height there’s a laser inside. When garbage breaks the plane of the laser it automatically engages the compactors to crush the garbage to handle more capacity in the pail. While a standard pail may hold 50 gallons, with the compactor a pail can hold up to 150 gallons. In addition, the pails are built with a wireless CLEAN (Collection, Logistics, Efficiency and Notification) system that sends a text or email to village personnel notifying them when the pails are full and need to be emptied. BigBelly Solar also provides companion recycling units that allow clients to collect single-stream or separated recyclable materials in public spaces.

The BigBelly was invented by Jim Poss, a self-described gadget-lover from Needham, MA, who was working on making electric cars at the time, according to an interview he did with NPR.

“The idea hit me, probably, when I was walking down a busy street in Boston,” he said, “and I noticed that all the garbage cans were overflowing with mounds of garbage. And it just hit me that there’s a better way.”

Poss founded Sea Horse Power in 2003 with the goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption and eventually changed the company name BigBelly Solar after the first BigBelly container was installed in Vail, CO, in 2004. In the subsequent years, the bin has wound up being used in a number of major cities across the country (Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, New York City) and around the world (Aberdeen, London, Hamburg, Reykjavik).

A receptacle strategically placed near the St. Paul’s playground.
(Photo courtesy of the Village of Garden City)

The BigBelly pails are being strategically placed throughout the village, including the St. Paul’s playground, along the north and south sides of Seventh Street near food establishments like Dunkin’ Donuts, Seventh Street Deli, Walk Street, Go Greek and The French Bakery, behind CVS, another behind Grimaldi’s and another one on the west side of New Hyde Park Road. One will be placed in the area of Panera Bread as well. The village also purchased 20 new, larger capacity trash receptacles for the business district. Eleven will be located inside parking field No. 7S while an additional three or four will be located on Seventh Street to supplement the solar pails.
While BigBellies cost nearly $4,000 each, the idea is that using solar power combined with a system that remotely alerts employees when a bin is ready to be emptied will save money and reduce a municipality’s carbon footprint by reducing the fuel employees use driving around to check on these compactors.


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In addition to being editor of Garden City Life and Syosset-Jericho Tribune, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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