Bins Use Rays to Recycle
Several of the nation’s top leaders in solar energy joined with lawmakers at the Capitol Wednesday, in a push for increased investment in the solar industry. Texas lags behind other states in solar infrastructure. The City of Austin is already putting some of that sunshine to use. A fleet of brand new solar-powered trash receptacles now speckle an eight-block stretch of Guadalupe near the UT Campus. They may take a little getting used to.
They’re called “BigBelly” bins. Tall and gray with separate compartments for recyclables and trash, the bins hold a lot of garbage. Jennifer Herber is with the City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services Department.
“They basically can compact about four regular trash cans worth of trash into one bag, so it makes it a lot more effective for our crews collecting,” Herber said.
Solar panels on top of the bins power a battery-operated masher that compacts the trash every time something is tossed in. The city hopes the compactors will eventually save thousands of dollars in fuel and manpower. That’s if people start using them.
“There’s definitely confusion about how to use the pull-down mechanism,” said Raleigh Postiglione, who operates a hot dog cart on the Drag, right next to one of the bins. She says people aren’t sure where to stick their trash.
“They look at it, sometimes just tuck trash into the little creases and corners of the cart because they don’t really understand what it is or how to use it,” Postiglione said.
UT student James Gibson has a theory about that.
“It doesn’t look like a trash can; that’s one reason. It’s not the simple circular, throw something in the top and then walk away type of trash can,” Gibson said. “Looks like there’s a lever you have to pull down. There are handles, different shaped slots. Sometimes human beings just think rather simply.”
A little farther down Guadalupe, UT student Alan McQuinn was getting the hang of those different shaped slots.
“Energy conservation and recycling all in one place, yeah!” McQuinn said.
As for that pull down handle.
“It’s pretty simple,” McQuinn said. “You just pull on it. I think people can definitely learn how to use it.”
Given a little time, the city thinks so too; potentially saving taxpayers money in the long haul.