The city of Clearwater, almost directly due west of Tampa, has recently installed brand new public trash cans that are designed with a hi-tech flare. The new bins are built with a solar-powered compactor that crumples up the trash to increase the total volume of waste that can be collected. The bins installed in Clearwater feature separate receptacles for recycling and regular trash to help divert more waste from Pinellas County’s landfill. The state of Florida passed a law mandating a 75% reduction in landfill waste by 2020. These new bins represent a small part of Clearwater’s planned contributions towards that goal.

The new trash cans are built by Big Belly Solar and are currently in use in cities all across the country, including Times Square in New York. We’ve even featured their bins before during our coverage of Boston’s installation of its first Big Belly solar compactors. The company’s trash cans are designed to be completely self-sufficient. The power that drives the internal compactor is derived solely from the solar panels that are placed on top of the bin. That means no carbon is emitted from the trash cans operation. And thanks to the compactor, the Big Belly can hold 6- 8 times more trash than a regular bin.

The particular model that Clearwater is using also features a WiFi connection that can signal the local waste management department when its time to empty the bin. Each can is equipped with sensors to tell when the trash can is almost filled to the brim. This feature allows the city’s waste crew to reduce their waste collection times so that they aren’t out collecting trash everyday regardless of whether they are full or not. This saves the city money and also reduces the amount of carbon produced by their collection services as they aren’t sending as many trucks out to gather up waste.

These solar trash cans are starting to catch on in even more locations such as universities, office campuses, and smaller towns and villages. However, there is no word yet on a possible dumpster model. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Source: Tampa Bay Times