Last July I blogged about a small test the city of Philadelphia was running with 3 solar-powered trash compactors ( Solar-powered Trashcan Test ). Cool idea, I thought, but I did not hear anything else about them. Then over the last three weeks I’ve started seeing them everywhere. Even better — they are now paired up with recycling bins. Clearly, I missed this article on May 1 on Philly.com: Hot idea: Solar-powered trash crushers. There will be 500 of these “Big Bellies”, as they are called, distributed around Center City. 210 will be paired with recycling bins (see picture above).
This is great news for a city that has long been plagued by litter. I’ve come to realize that most (okay, many) Philadelphians will use a waste basket. In truth, the 700 wire baskets with plastic liners that are being replaced were really a main part of the litter problem. Those baskets were often overflowing, and since they had no tops the wind would often pluck light stuff out of them and spread it down the streets. Sometimes a strong gust would completely lift the liner out of the mesh basket and dump everything out. Yet now, nothing will escape the ‘big bellies’ once they have a hold of it, and compactors offer a lot of advantages for a cash-strapped city hoping to clean up its act:
The compactors require fewer collections, which saves the city on fuel for sanitation vehicles and frees up workers for other tasks, officials said.
They also hold up to 200 gallons of trash, compared with the 55-gallon capacity of a regular wire trash basket.
Because of that capacity they require five weekly collections, compared with the 19 for a regular trash basket. That means only eight workers will be assigned to collect litter baskets, compared with the current 33, said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. (Philly.com)
The presence of the recycle bins in high traffic areas, like Rittenhouse Square, will also serve to remind and encourage folks to do just that — recycle. It is easier to do when it is made so convenient.
Former Mayor (and current PA Governor) Ed Rendell made huge strides in rejuvenating Philadelphia. I moved to the city the year before he was elected and I saw the progress first-hand. Now, current Mayor Michael Nutter seems ready to take it to the next level.