Site Menu
September 19, 2017

Bigbelly: How High-Tech “Smart” Garbage Cans Are Making Cities Smarter

Who knew garbage cans could be so smart? For years, Waste Management has been an investor in Bigbelly – the world leading smart waste and recycling system. Bigbelly’s solution features a suite of compacting and non-compacting smart trash cans featuring a slew of cool tech.

For example, solar panels on the High Capacity stations harvest energy for compaction and communication. Their built-in compactors are tucked neatly inside. Each one holds 150 gallons, 5 times as much as an average can, because the contents are continuously compressed into smaller messes. The battery-powered Standard Capacity model holds 50-gallons.

They are deployed in cities, business complexes, and universities, and do not need to be picked up as often thanks to the extra capacity.

Both models measure how full they are and report real-time status to a central command center. Instead of a city sending out its fleet to check all cans at once, only the at-capacity cans are collected, saving a tremendous amount of time, money and truck emissions.

Even with all this going on, there is still space within Bigbelly cans that can be put to good use. In addition to modernizing a core city service, they can be leveraged to host other “Smart City” applications, hiding technology in plain sight.

One example: Wi-Fi hotspots. Placed in parks or other high-density areas, the Bigbelly system can host a Wi-Fi hotspot to offer free Internet access to all in the vicinity.

Other Bigbelly benefits:

  • Stations measure fullness and collection activity through embedded sensors in every unit
  • Avoids trips to collect cans that are empty or only partially full ꟷ collection teams can be dispatched on the most efficient routes
  • Provides access to historical data and reporting to bring greater productivity and efficiency to the collection and planning process
  • Makes it possible to measure productivity gains and see exactly how much time, money and fuel organizations are saving
  • Helps communities introduce recycling and measure diversion rates, and reduce overall carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Used at the Waste Management Phoenix Open to help achieve zero waste

Bigbelly can also serve as a host location for small cell or other wireless equipment. With people accessing more data than ever before on their smartphones and other wireless devices, cellular companies need additional bandwidth on their networks. Bigbelly’s multi-purpose infrastructure could host telecom equipment for additional wireless network coverage directly “where the people are.”

One thing is certain, Bigbelly is such an innovative product line that, no matter where its future lies, it will continue making cities smarter.