Dec 16, 2014

Still got trash on the mind

I can't stop thinking about the Big Belly solar trash compactor. I wrote a November 23 post on Trash Compacting and was disappointed to hear how expensive the unit was (around $4,000).

I have been seeing a lot of different trash cans around D.C. On the National Mall and around town, I see a lot of 42 gallon steel slat receptacles. It turns out that these are $900 if you go with Belson Outdoors and you'll see similar prices with competitors. It can be an additional couple hundred bucks to add the right top to protect from rain and accommodate for cigarette ashes. 

So a normal city receptacle is 1/4 of a Big Belly in cost but Big Belly can hold up to 5 times in volume. This is a competition that is under 10 years old and if BigBelly wants to win, they need to lower their price. Looks like they've got a pretty good savings pitch here--of course, I'd like to see sources for the "Notes and Assumptions" section.

It seems to me that trash collecting for cities will be expensive regardless. The most important thing is that they look for multiple bids during the procurement process. Cities can win when contractors compete in bidding wars.


  1. Yesterday I observed a garbage truck stop and collect trash from a receptacle on a residential city block. In this instance, I would imagine cost of pick up (gas used, labor hours, etc.) is negligible. So, would investing in a solar compactor be economical in this instance?

    1. That's a great point and I don't think investing is economical in this instance. The compactor in the photo is from Navy Yard (along the Anacostia River) and I've seen many other on GWU campus. My dad informs me that he's seeing them at bus stops in Seattle at some of the bigger, city streets. These are all instances where there is little to no residential trash pick up.