Energy and Environment
2:21 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Reno installs solar-powered garbage bins

Solar-powered trash compactor. Photo from www.bigbellysolar.com.

Reno has recently added 25 solar-powered trash compactors to the downtown corridor. After this trial run, many more could be popping up around town.

“Rather high-tech,” is how Sarah Polito, a spokesperson for Waste Management of Nevada, describes the compactors.

“Think mission impossible style, if you will,” Polito says. “There are laser beams within the compactor.”

Polito says the new design is a more efficient and eco-friendly method of collecting trash. That’s because anytime garbage piles up above the lasers, the waste is crushed down, enabling these units to provide five times the capacity of a traditional bin. When they’re finally full, the unit sends out a wi-fi signal to waste management so the trash can be collected.

“It helps with the greenhouse or big gas emissions because we’re not having to come down the streets as often to clean or collect the trash,” Polito says.

Jason Geddes is Reno’s environmental services administrator. His goal is to have more than 200 of these new compactors installed throughout the region at around $3,000 a pop.

These first 25 units were installed as part of a franchise agreement the city made with waste management back in 2012. It’s not clear yet where the money would come from for future expansion.

“We don’t have a budget right now for this program, so we’re looking for grant opportunities to help pay for expanding this program.”

Geddes says the new technology is part of Reno’s green initiative, which aims to reduce the city’s environmental impacts.