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7+Fig Sidewalk Gets a Solar Trash Compactor

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, February 25, 2008, at 02:25PM
Big Belly at 7+Fig Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Downtown's BigBelly compactor was recently installed outside 7+Fig.

Standing on the sidewalk outside the 7+Fig shopping center is a box that might make you take a second look. Visually falling somewhere between a mailbox and a book return, the BigBelly trash compactor doesn't look much like the reset of the trash cans littering Downtown's streets. It's big, boxy, and sports a fancy solar panel on top.

Functionally, the unit's just as different from a normal can as it is in appearance. That solar panel powers a compactor that allows the BigBelly to take in five times the garbage of a normal can before needing to be emptied. Once packed down, each unit can hold roughly 200-gallons of trash.

The units are in use in cities around the country. New York installed its first in 2005, and has since been followed by spots like Chicago, Boston and recently Pasadena. An NPR story from last summer pegged the cost per-unit at $4,000, but notes cost savings from less frequent collection.

This unit is part of a three-unit pilot project by the city, who's loaning them from manufacturer Seahorse Power. Another unit is supposed to be on San Pedro street in Central City East, with the third out in Venice.

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