City considers solar-powered waste bin pilot program

October 26, 2015

Photo courtesy Bigbelly.

BY SAM STERN – A representative from Bigbelly, a solar-based recycling company, presented a preliminary outline for an overhaul of Hyattsville’s waste removal to the Hyattsville City Council on Oct. 19.

Bigbelly is an international recycling and garbage company that uses software and solar power to create a more efficient and technologically advanced removal program, according to Rob Kutner, Bigbelly area vice president. “We replace your conventional outdoor space waste and recycling system with a smarter and more enclosed system,” said Kutner.

This “Clean Management Console” consists of two units, one recycling and one garbage, which are both solar-powered and completely self-contained so to avoid any litter that would usually arise in conventional bins as a result of wind, the presentation said. Each console would be connected to a cloud computing system that allows the user to track when waste is at capacity, allowing a more efficient allocation of pickup services. Bigbelly said it offers a subscription-based business model, meaning the city would pay a monthly fee for the physical containers, the software needed to run the units, and any service needed.

Bigbelly said it mapped the city in August to determine where these units would be implemented if Hyattsville chooses to use their services.  “We see on average about an 80 percent reduction of the amount of time and energy that is spent on waste and recycling collections,” said Kutner.

bigbellymap

Proposed Bigbelly sites for pilot program.

“Is there cost-savings here in some regard? I mean why are we going to consider this kind of plan?” said Councilmember Tom Wright (Ward 3).  Kutner said that although details are still being worked out with Hyattsville Director of Public Works Lesley Riddle, Bigbelly gives cities back valuable time and resources that are usually wasted on inefficient systems of removal.

During the public comment period, several West Hyattsville residents voiced concern about the lack of Bigbelly bins proposed for Wards 4 and 5.

“This seems like yet another instance of my neighborhood being overlooked and left out in favor of areas east of Queens Chapel Road,” said Shannon Weiss. “I am asking the city to reconsider its plan to place 98 percent of the proposed trash receptacles in other areas of Hyattsville.”

“There are several neighbors on 31st avenue that have resorted to tying trash bags to their fences and several others along Ager [Road] near the metro that keep their bins out on the curb in order for passerbys to have a place to deposit their trash,” Jen Kubit said.

“We hope that when you finalize the plans that you’re more equitable in how you distribute these across all five wards,” said Meg Libby-Mueller.

“Since we have litter issues in the city, wouldn’t it be good to identify some of the areas that are experiencing trash issues and don’t have receptacles, or pick some of high volume areas that do have receptacles?” Councilmmember Edouard Haba (Ward 4) said.  He also said this would allow the city to study the areas where these technologically advanced bins would be performing the most frequently.

According to the presentation, this plan is slated to be a pilot program that would test the efficacy of a fully functional Bigbelly system on the City of Hyattsville. Kutner said the preliminary list was a baseline, but that Bigbelly wants to address the comments made about West Hyattsville.

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