Waste Management Talks Trash, Recycling and Solar Power (photos)

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Solar powered trash compactors demonstrated in downtown Kirkland

Installation of 46 "BigBelly" compactors help to lower costs and increase capacity.

On Wednesday, Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride and dozens of kids from the Parks Department summer camp witnessed a presentation of downtown's new solar powered trash compactors by Jeff McMahon, District Manager for Waste Management. Forty-six of the "high tech" trash and recycling bins, known as "BigBellies," were installed in downtown Kirkland in the past few weeks. The new cans increase garbage and recycling capacity and reduce costs by compacting waste as needed and wirelessly signaling Waste Management when they need to be emptied. This new system not only reduces the frequency of garbage pickups, it also reduces the chance of animals removing garbage from the cans -- an all too frequent occurrence in downtown on weekends when garbage from over-stuffed trash cans littered the sidewalks.

Garbage by the numbers

Forty six “BigBelly” compactors were installed in key locations in downtown Kirkland, WA in July 2011; 23 were paired with recycling receptacles.

• The compactors provide up to five times the garbage capacity of the existing 32-gallon garbage cans. The internal compaction ratio dial can be adjusted from the default 3:1 up to 5:1.

• The recycling receptacles will increase the public recycling capacity to almost seven cubic yards per week.

• The compactors reduce operating costs, fuel usage, and greenhouse emissions by up to 80 percent.

• Each unit is equipped with wireless communication hardware which enables Waste Management, Inc. and City of Kirkland staff to recognize in real time when a compactor is full or nearly full and needs to be emptied. This wireless monitoring significantly increases overall operational efficiency and reduces the number of collection trips.

• The 46 new compactors are provided to the City and its residents at no cost as part of the solid waste contract between Kirkland and Waste Management that went into effect on July 1, 2011. A compactor/recycling kiosk retails for approximately $5,000 and a standalone compactor unit retails for about $4,000.