The Sunny Side of Trash: Philadelphia Rolls Out Solar-Powered Garbage Cans

The Sunny Side of Trash: Philadelphia Rolls Out Solar-Powered Garbage Cans

Alisa Opar
Published: 05/29/2009

Every day more Big Belly’s are popping up on Philadelphia streets. No, not the kind cultivated by guzzling brewskies and indulging in Philly cheese steaks (man, does that sound good, though). Nope, these fellas are garbage cans—solar-powered trash compactors that can hold up to nearly four times as much rubbish as a traditional wire receptacle, and they only have to be emptied once every five days instead of 19 times a week. Like a teenager letting her mom know when she’s had her fill of the mall, the Big Belly sends a text message to the city’s Streets Department when it’s ready for pick up.

Besides the high-tech coolness factor, the bins are also good for the environment. According to the city’s Streets Department, “They will reduce overflowing, decrease the number of collection trips and cut related fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. It has the capacity to hold 200 gallons of trash (normal city trash cans hold 55 gallons) and can operate for a week on the energy it takes to make a pot of coffee.”

By July, the city will have replaced 700 wire trashcans with 500 Big Bellys. At the same time, the city is starting a sidewalk recycling campaign and putting out 210 recycling baskets. State funds covered the $2.2 million project.

Philly isn’t the only city trying out the devices. Boston Red Sox fans may have noticed a Big Belly their last time at Fenway; according to the company’s website, the ballpark is one of the locales that houses the innovative trashcans.

The verdict? Big Bellys are hot.

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