Solar Powered Rubbish Bins Reduce Emissions

The sight of overflowing council-provided rubbish bins in public areas could be a thing of the past, thanks to solar power.

USA company BigBelly offers a patented compacting rubbish bin that is completely solar powered. The units are around the same size as a normal bin but can handle 5 times the rubbish, thanks to a unique compacting system.  The company claims increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.

In US terms and depending on collection frequency, BigBelly states a standard bin costs between $7,300 and $30,000 over its lifetime, whereas BigBelly lifetime operational costs are significantly lower; somewhere between USD$6,000 and $12,000.

The fully portable bin incorporates a 30 watt polycrystalline solar panel protected by a polycarbonate bubble. The compactor is driven by a 1/6-HP DC gear-motor exerting a force of 1250 lbs. (570 kg). The DC motor is powered by a 12 volt deep cycle battery maintained by a solar regulator that controls the charging level.

The bins have an additional wireless communications feature whereby the unit can “call home” via SMS text when it is approaching capacity. This can save on additional emissions and expenses involved with picking up bins that aren’t full. LED indicators on the bin provide a visual checking mechanism. The units can also incorporate modules for separation of recyclable materials.

Materials used in the construction of the bin include galvanized sheet metal steel interior and exterior (recycled content), heavy duty plastic side panels for dent and scratch resistance (also recycled content) and the hopper is made from leak proof low-density polyethylene plastic.