University Purchases Solar-Powered Trash Cans

UCSD Facilities Management purchased a total of 25 stations. The units consist of one trash compactor and one recycling compactor and can be found around Library Walk and Town Square. 

Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Management Alonso Noble said this is just the first step and that UCSD will purchase more solar-powered trash cans.

According to the BigBelly Solar website, the trash cans can hold about 180 gallons of trash, five times the capacity of a traditional 35 gallon trash can. The units also house a built-in sensor that alerts maintenance workers when it is time to empty them. The people responsible for pick-up will be notified via a website. 

BigBelly personnel are training the UCSD Solid Waste Management Department staff how to manage the units. 

With the new trash cans, UCSD is following the lead of cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston that have already bought into the initiative. Harvard and MIT have also implemented the trash cans onto their campuses.

“We are looking at how it will benefit staff, how it will benefit the university and how it can attribute to the sustainability of the university,” Noble said. “With the old system, a landscape staff would be assigned to drive out to the trash cans to see if they needed to be emptied or not.”

Noble said that, with the new system, the last shift of the cleaning crew can just check the website and take care of the units that need to be serviced. The saved trips allow those on staff to spend their time doing other tasks.

The CEO of BigBelly Solar said in a Fox Business Network interview on Nov. 18 that the cost of each unit depends on the system. If a park system needs 10 of the trash cans in, the cost might be about $1,000 a month over a five-year period.