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Solar bins put squeeze on BLD trash
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Manteca’s most innovative trash bins can be found at the Big League Dreams sports complex as well as at the Manteca Civic Center.

The city has installed solar-powered “smart” trash bins with built-in compactors at both locations.

The bins — one for trash and the other for all recyclables — are made by Bigbelly. They were purchased with state grant money from recycling receipts that must be spent on efforts to promote recycling.

Once the items inside the trash bins reach a certain level,  the contents are compacted. They hold five times the amount of a bin of similar size. When the bins are full, a computer sends a message to the Bigbelly cloud that then notifies the Manteca Solid Waste Division so a pickup can be scheduled.

The bins are solar powered and do not require electricity. The bins constantly recharge an internal battery during daylight hours. Bins are able to function for  more than 72 hours without direct sunlight.

The compaction feature allows them to hold 150 gallons of trash or recyclables instead of the 30-gallon capacity of a non-smart bin.

A Bigbelly hopper design feature keeps waste contained in the bin while deterring pest access and preventing water overflow and wind-blown litter. It also assures that no one can get near the compaction mechanism when it is working.

Bigbelly has noted that many cities deploy the smart trash bins in various public venues such as downtowns, parks, and sports complexes in a bid to reduce costs as well as improve aesthetics.

Collection costs in some cities can run as high as $2,000 a year for a downtown trash respectable due to frequent trash pickups. They also prevent litter and debris from being thrown around and in turn enhance the areas they serve — downtowns, sparks, and such — by creating a more favorable view for shoppers, visitors, and tourists.

Philadelphia, as an example, has deployed 1,000 Bigbelly stations throughout the central part of that city — including some  tough neighborhoods — to reduce costs and keep streets clean.

The smart trash cans reduced Philadelphia’s downtown area collections from 17 to there a week.  That city is averaging $1 million a year in operation, fuel, and truck costs.

Los Angeles’ Downtown Center Business Improvement District is seeking to expand its network of Bigbelly trash cans. The 36 they now have in place has reduced collection costs by 70 to 80 percent.

The City of Atlanta has started deploying them in municipal parks not just to reduce costs but to end messes created when cans are full or when people sort through them looking for recyclables.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email