New Trash Cans a Hit

City Orders More Solar-Powered Compacting Bins

By Nathan McIntire, Staff Writer for the Pasadena Star-News

PASADENA – Trash-collection “hotspots” that require frequent visits by public works crews will soon be outfitted with time-saving trash compactors that derive their energy from the sun.

Following a 2007 pilot program in which four solar-powered trash compactors were installed around the city, the City Council has voted unanimously to approve $146,550 to purchase 40 more.

The Big Bellu Solar Trash Compactors crush garbage automatically. They will be placed in areas that produce the most garbage and will only need to be picked up on a weekly instead of a daily basis.

“There’s a savings to be had because they require less frequent pickups,” Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. “They were very successful and they were very well received, and because they can accommodate more trash, they result in less garbage around the trash cans.”

The savings in labor costs will pay for the cans in about 3 years, according to Pasadena Public Works Director Martin Pastucha. The cans will also help reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions since garbage trucks will go out less frequently.

The unusual appearance of the Big Belly also gets people’s attention, Pastucha said.

“It does attract attention and in that regard it does attract people to it and so hopefully they’ll utilize it,” he said.

Councilman Steve Madison was the only council member to express reservations about the solar compactors. He questioned at Monday’s council meeting whether it might be prudent to wait for the cost of the trash cans to come down before buying more of them.

“Is this like the old cell phones that weigh 10 pounds and cost $5,000 then in two years the prices go down to twenty bucks?,” Martin asked.

He ultimately voted for the funding.