UW Sees Decrease In Waste Through Solar-Powered Compost

April 26, 2012
News Source: 
The Daily

Only weeks after the new solar-powered recycling, composting, and waste kiosks were stationed in Red Square, there has been a 50 percent drop in the amount of garbage collected each week.

On top of the kiosks are solar panels that collect ambient daylight to charge a battery inside the bin, so the kiosks work 24 hours a day. The BigBelly, the middle kiosk that compacts waste, is anchored on each side by two SmartBellys, which collect information about the containers and send it to a management console. Richard Kennelly, vice president of marketing for BigBelly Solar, the company that created the solar-powered kiosks, said the UW is now the first location in the United States to implement solar-powered composting kiosks with smart technology.

While the old trash cans replaced by BigBelly cost just less than $2,000, the new kiosks, which come as a set of three components for each of the three waste streams, cost approximately $8,000. Emily Newcomer, operations manager of UW Recycling and Solid Waste, said the extra costs of the kiosks are offset by their increased efficiency and avoided disposal costs.

“The technology allows us to know when and where to service the containers,” Newcomer said. “Plus, since we are capturing all three waste types, our disposal costs are going down as more material is being diverted from the landfill.”

Recycling and Solid Waste members saw the need for more efficient waste disposal after their annual trash-in event last year, when students sort trash, which revealed 61 percent of materials in the garbage were compostable.