Making its way to 40 states and 20 countries, the latest 32-gallon trash disposal device, called the "Big Belly" uses solar energy to condense up to 150-200 gallons of waste. When trash reaches the top of the bin, a motor is generated to push it down. As the bin gets more packed, a light changes from green to yellow to red. When the light turns red, indicating the bin is full, a wireless system notifies the Streets Department to come empty the can.
This month, Philadelphia replaced 700 regular trash bins along heavy routes downtown with 500 of these high-tech "Big Belly" devices, being the first city to install in such great numbers. With the ability to hold more waste, the devices will cut collection trips by 75 percent, saving fuel costs and greenhouse gases emitted. Although the project called for a total of $2.2 million, the city was able to use state municipality funds and plans on this transformation saving approximately $875,000 per year.
The city will additionally place 210 recycling containers beside the bins to increase Philadelphia's recycling rates. Within the past year, those rates have risen 6 to 12 percent and are expected to reach 70 percent by 2015.