The university recently invested in two BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors which will be demonstrated from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on October 9 in front of the Reynolda Fresh Food Company. Made in the USA of 80-100% post-consumer recycled plastic and other environmentally-sound material, the first and only solar trash compactor operates entirely off-grid, powered only by visible, in-unit solar panel that operates in all weather, climates, and locations, even without direct sunlight. The university also purchased the integrated recycling units to provide on-site compaction of waste while promoting side-walk recycling.

The BigBelly Solar Compactors “make a high profile statement to our sustainability movement,” Jim Coffey, director of Landscaping Services, said. Plus, “it will pay for itself over time,” he added.

The trash receptacles have five times the capacity of standard trash cans but take up the same amount of space. That means that a single unit can hold up to 200 gallons of trash. By compacting trash on the collection site, BigBelly Trash bins eliminate four out of every five trash collection trips, reducing time spent on collection, fossil fuel consumption, green house gas emissions, and plastic bag consumption by up to 80%. An in-unit wireless monitoring system remotely alerts staff when a BigBelly unit is full, maximizing efficiency and minimizing resource waste. The enclosed design of the unit keeps odors in and rodents, birds, and other small animals out of the trash, preventing the unsanitary, unattractive, and potentially hazardous spread of waste.

According to BigBelly Solar, a single Trash Compactor unit will save the university anywhere from $1,300 to $18,000 dollars in trash collecting fees and negative environmental effects over its lifetime compared to a standard bin. Employment of BigBelly machines also contributes to LEED building credits that can be used to achieve LEED Silver Certification or higher.