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Solar-powered ‘Trash Eaters’ Headed to MacArthur Park

Five high-tech receptacles are coming to the MacArthur Park area, one of Los Angeles’ densest communities, city officials announced last week.

The “Big Belly” solar compactors, which are about the size of a U.S. mailbox, will be installed within the next week or so along 6th and Alvarado streets and will cost $25,000, according to Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, who represents MacArthur Park.

Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, center left, unveiled the solar-powered receptacles in MacArthur Park.(Office of Councilman Ed P. Reyes)

The sealed receptacles will keep trash and odor contained, keep pests and scavengers away and hold five times the amount of trash as a traditional trash can, thereby reducing the number of times the receptacle has to be emptied, according to Reyes, who made the announcement May 9 in front of the MacArthur Park Metro station.

“We are unveiling what I consider the way of the future in trash collecting for the City of Los Angeles,” Reyes said in a written statement.

The receptacle’s compactor, sensors and wireless card are powered by a solar panel on the top of the product and when the trash level reaches its maximum, the sensors activate the compactor to crush the trash. The receptacles fullness and other mechanical problems are sent wirelessly to a monitoring system, according to Joe Albrecht, sales director for Big Belly Solar.

Fewer trips to empty the receptacles mean a reduction in the City’s carbon footprint and less wear and tear on city roads, according to Reyes.

“The Bureau of Sanitation commends Councilmember Reyes and his staff on the purchase of Big Belly Solar bins to combat litter problems plaguing the Alvarado Corridor. Sanitation always welcomes and is grateful for opportunities to partner with Council staff to better serve the environmental needs of their constituents and our customers,” said Javier Polanco, Division Manager, Solid Resources Support Services Division.

The solar receptacles are made by the Newton, MA-based BigBelly. According to the City’s Bureau of Sanitation, they are the most efficient, durable and technologically-advanced forms of waste collection available on the market today.