Tampa Trash Tests New Solar-Powered Compactors

The city of Tampa is trying out solar-powered trash receptacles around the downtown area to see if they are a feasible option for permanent use.

The "BigBelly" receptacles, provided by Waste Management, Inc., are run on 12-volt batteries recharged through solar energy. Each receptacle is equipped with sensors that automatically trigger compaction when needed, and send a signal when completely full and ready for emptying. The receptacles are located on the corners of Franklin and Madison, Kennedy and Franklin, and Franklin and Twiggs streets.

"Tampa is joining a number of cities like Philadelphia that just deployed these compactors on the heels of the Obama administration's push for solar industry," says Tonja Brickhouse, director of Tampa's Solid Waste and Environmental Program Management. "We're working with the Tampa Downtown Partnership to see how these will work out for us."

According to Brickhouse, one compactor can hold five times as much as one traditional receptacle can, which may reduce collections from 17 to five times a week, which translates to savings for the city.

"Based on projections from Philadelphia, we can expect around $12 million in overall savings, including those for maintenance, labor and fuel," she says. "All of those variables over time point to a huge savings.

"This translates to less trucks on the road, more efficiency and less green house gas emissions from our trucks," continues Brickhouse. "It's supposed to over time translate to 80 percent savings on green house gas emissions. This system allows us to take the waste from the waste process."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Tonya Brickhouse, City of Tampa
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