City of Kirkland Pilots Solar Powered Garbage Compactors

Innovative Compactors Expected to Reduce Collection Costs

Solar Waste Can Big Belly Trash and Recycling Kiosk at Lake St and Park Lane

Kirkland’s Solid Waste Division is taking an innovative approach to providing street garbage collection in its Central Business District (CBD). With help from Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), the City Parks Department, and the sun, two solar powered garbage compactors and recycling kiosks will be installed at the corners of Lake Street and Park Avenue and at the end of Kirkland Avenue, adjacent to Marina Park. These have been proven in other cities across the nation to significantly reduce collection costs and environmental impacts, control litter, and provide increased public recycling opportunities for bottles, can, and paper products. While requiring only solar power to operate, each automatic garbage compactor hold up to five times as much garbage as a typical 35-gallon garbage can, saving thousands of dollars over its lifetime by reducing the number of collection trips by 80 percent. Each compactor even comes equipped with a wireless notification system that will send an email to WMI and Parks Department maintenance staff when it’s full.

Due to budget reductions, City Solid Waste officials have been challenged to find more efficient and effective collection methods and technologies to preserve its current level of street can garbage service and litter control in the CBD. Through its solid waste contract with the City, WMI is required to service each of the 56 street garbage cans in the CBD three times to five times per week, depending on the season. However, the essential seasonal labor provided by Public Works in the past used to control litter and supplement the basic street can service provided by Waste Management during the busy summer months has been eliminated from the City’s budget in 2010 due to financial challenges facing the City. Solid Waste staff is hoping the innovative technology that comes with the solar compactors will become one solution they can rely upon to help bridge the budget gap.

The pilot project will continue over the course of the 2010 after which the City will evaluate the efficiency and cost effectiveness of installing additional kiosks.

In 2008, the City of Seattle installed 23 units and the City of Philadelphia recently installed 500 units. Philadelphia has estimated their annual collection cost savings to be $1.3 million. Other agencies that have experienced success with the solar compactors include the City of Boston, the Portland Zoo, and Arizona State University.

For more information, please contact John MacGillivray, Solid Waste Coordinator, at (425) 587-3804 or