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Big Bellies

Big Belly solar trash compactors have been talked about a lot lately. The idea is that because they hold more trash, garbage collectors only have to pick it up one-fifth as often, thus saving gas (and the garbage collectors’ time). It sounds great, but I’m not sure the product’s quite there yet.

A couple years ago Big Bellies were put in down the street from where I work, and Berklee even sponsored one. Since then I’ve become disillusioned with them. For one thing, they quickly became even more disgusting than regular trash cans. I don’t know if it’s the compacting action or the relatively small slot for trash to fit into, but they get sticky and dirty, and even stain the sidewalk around them.



For another thing, you actually have to touch a handle to open the slot. Just think of all the germs passed from person to person on that grimy handle. *shudder* I can’t think of a more unsanitary design for an outdoor trash can.

A trash can just down the street, for comparison.

A trash can just down the street, for comparison.

The city actually removed the two Big Bellies on Newbury Street recently, and you can still see the stains they left. The one on Mass. Ave. seems to be faring better—maybe it’s a newer model or was installed more recently?

The Berklee-sponsored Big Belly on Mass. Ave.

The Berklee-sponsored Big Belly on Mass. Ave.

So while Big Belly promoters have their hearts in the right place, I don’t think it’s practical yet. Maybe if it was redesigned with a motion detector to open the slot? Or had a funnel or something to collect the water that drips out? Come on trash can designers, I know you can think of something.


Comment from Mike T.
Time September 29, 2009 at 10:01 am

There is another drawback I noticed with the compacter in Davis Square. They are not really designed to be vomitted into, but people — hobos or Tufts student or both — will try anyway. And THAT gets really gross.

Pingback from Big Belly Update « Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time February 3, 2010 at 8:01 pm

[…] trash, waste management, would *you* touch that? I have to admit, I feel kind of bad trashing the Big Belly solar compactors that have been popping up around the city. In theory they’re good. And while there are no […]

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Time September 30, 2010 at 9:58 pm

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