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BigBelly Solar Trash & Recycling Collection

Eliminating Wasted Resources

Last Modified: April 03, 2013
BigBelly Station Captivates Wiley Elementary 5th Graders

The Big Belly pilot program is reducing the City's cost for trash pickup in public areas and promoting a cleaner, neater Downtown. The 45 Big Belly smart, solar-powered, self-contained units accept recyclables and non-recyclables and are a visible reminder of the City's first widespread public recycling program.

These innovative public waste and recycling stations are located on the sidewalks in Glenwood South, off Fayetteville Street, City Plaza, Hillsborough Street, NC Green Square and other Downtown areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. The park pilot areas include Baileywick Park, John Chavis Memorial Park, and the Neuse River Greenway Trail.

During the pilot program the annual cost of trash collection on Fayetteville Street was reduced from $40,903 to $1,607, a savings of $39,296 annually. The 32 traditional open-top trash cans were replaced by 10 Big Belly stations. In the Glenwood South area collection costs have decreased from $12,056 annually to $115, an annual savings of $11,941. Collection cans were reduced from 27 open-top cans to 13 Big Belly units.

These savings reduce fuel use and carbon emissions while also reducing staff time for pickups and equipment-based wear and tear on streets.

The compacting feature removes the air volume of wasted space and Big Belly unit software monitors trash levels and emails a pickup alert to Solid Waste Services when the unit is ready to be cleaned out.

"The Big Belly units have helped the City save money and made Downtown much neater by eliminating a lot of wind-blown trash from the open-top cans," said City of Raleigh Solid Waste Services Assistant Director Phillip White. "You can't ask for much more than that." White also credited the success of the Big Belly program in part to the Clean is Green Raleigh educational campaign partnership with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

The American-made stations, with plastic parts made from recycled car bumpers, clearly list what are recyclable items and what items are not recyclable. During the past six months more than 65,000 gallons of Big Belly collections have been processed. More than 73 percent of Big Belly collections to date are recyclables, adding up to $76 per ton in recycling value for the City.

Installation of the units began in the summer of 2012 and was funded by a U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Watch the Big Belly Solar video.

Read the Big Belly Solar case study.

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