“It all started back many years ago with the idea of having a smarter way to deal with trash, ” said Bigbelly Vice President of Marketing Leila Dillon. She explained that creating a waste container with compaction has allowed a Bigbelly container to handle five times the amount of trash that another container of the same size would be able to hold. Additionally, Bigbelly offers cloud-based software that allows trash haulers to monitor the capacity of their bins, which Dillon says is the “cornerstone” of the company.
“You can simply click on the stations and the fullness summary, and you can also look at it from what we call a heat map so you really understand the capacity needs for your city or town, ” said Dillon.
The ability to customize bins in order to fit community needs is a unique element of Bigbelly’s operations. The company lets the client decide location and capacity of each station, and offers to wrap the containers in advertisements or logos. Recently, Bigbelly even announced the installation of Wi-Fi hotspots in containers throughout New York City.
“We thought, ‘Wow there’s a lot we could do with this.’ The solar power makes us quite unique. We don’t need to plug in our station and we tend to have the most deployments in the highest traffic area, ” said Dillon. “So that was sort of the idea behind adding Wi-Fi or even adding things like data metrics and urban intelligence data.”
Dillon said she hopes that Bigbelly will continue to bring more value and services underneath a “smart and connected self-powered station that sits on every street corner.”
While waste containers have traditionally been designed for installation above ground, Greenville, SC-based Sutera USA is changing the rules with their semi-underground waste containers. The bins — which store waste in a concrete well five feet below the surface — help keep waste cool and reduce odors. Sutera Director of Business Development Bill Higgins said that the company hopes to replace dumpsters across the nation with these space-saving receptacles.
The bins — which cost about $5, 500 and can hold up to 3, 000 pounds of trash or recyclables — have a secure, sealed lid and are lined with a reusable PVC-coated polyester bag which contains all leachate. Once the bag is full, it is removed with a hook-lift garbage truck and emptied.
While the concept is fairly new in the United States, the underground bins are a norm in Canada, which has given Sutera USA the confidence for success in the American market. The company installed a prototype at their head office and bought a truck in order to demonstrate how the bins can be properly used. Companies that invest in Sutera’s product will ultimately be responsible for their own hauling.
“Our plan right now is to develop the system in Greenville, South Carolina. Once we prove the concept works, the plan is to move it across the U.S. The plan is not for us to be in the hauling or service business, ” said Higgins. “It’s a new concept and getting everybody to understand the advantages of it is the key to getting it adopted.”
Sometimes the beauty of a trash can is not necessarily its design, but the technology that lies within. Enevo, a Finnish tech company that has expanded to the American market, has developed a volume-based sensor that uses sonar technology to determine the fullness of a container. The sensor then sends information to a dashboard where the data is available for monitoring. The dashboard also suggests routes for trash haulers to better optimize fleet efficiency.
Christy Hurlburt, the western regional sales manager for Enevo, explained that the technology is not tied to a container, so it can be installed inside any container type.
“What’s nice about Enevo is we have an open API, so other platforms can use our data, ” said Hurlburt. “So it’s a very compatible system. We built the system to be flexible to work with anyone in the industry.”
Enevo has traveled the globe to promote its software, and even made a stop at WASTECON last month, where Hurlburt explained how big data is creating smarter cities and smarter organizations.
“I am excited to be a part of not just the Enevo space, but this general transformation. I think we’re hitting a tipping point where the real application of a lot of these technologies that are out there…I think we’re really getting close to them — certainly not mainstream, but kind of that phase before the mainstream with the early adopters and having some real models that other cities can look to, ” said Brian Pompeo, the vice president of sales at Enevo. “I think that part of what we need to see is, how do we help cities that have some rigid standards? How do they think creatively about allowing some of these smaller companies to come in and really have significant effect in their day to day operations? To me, that’s exciting.”