Friday, October 19, 2007

Solar Powered Trash Cans?

I noticed something interesting in front of the LA County Hall of Administration building today: two normal trash receptacles that had previously been there had been replaced with new tash bins that had a solar panel built into the top of them and a drawer to deposit the trash.

My curiousity was piqued - what the heck would you need power for? It turned out there was a compactor built in which I guess is intended to reduce the number of times the trash needs to be emptied a day. Perhaps this would be useful in some situations, such as for a business who would be able to lay off a maintenance worker or two to pad their bottom line. But since this is a muni government that's not chomping at the bit to cut employees, I'm trying to figure out if there'd really be any cost savings on the labor side, but I see from a quick search that Boston has employed these cans big time in that city, and it reduced the number of emptyings of the cans from 4 times a day to once every other day. Not bad.

And also, these locations have a lot of informal recycling taking place, where maintenance folks or members of the public take bottles and cans out of the trash to be recycled. With these new compactor/trash receptacles, the would-be recyclers wouldn't have access to the trash, and even the maintenance workers would have a devil of a time separating bottles and cans from the cube of compacted waste. The best thing would be for people to leave the cans and bottles by the trash bins but not inside - but people instinctiviely think that's littering, so I imagine they feel like there's no choice but to throw it away, which would make it unretrievable.

That's too bad.

...I think the BigBelly receptacle is what I saw today. The brochure for the product emphasizes the environmental friendliness in terms of reducing emissions from hauling presumably. I think they're missing an opportunity to facilitate informal recycling though. Attachments for depositing recyclable containers (perhaps not glass, though, due to safety reasons) sound like just the thing.

I think I'll make a pest of myself and bug them to make something like that.

...And this item is interesting too. A critique of the machine at an environmental site, and an informative response from the inventor of the machines in the comments.


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