North Texas Daily

Solar trash compactors arrive on campus

Solar trash compactors arrive on campus

Solar trash compactors arrive on campus
July 21
19:06 2014

Joshua Knopp / Senior Staff Writer

Until last week’s rainstorm, mysterious cardboard boxes had spread across campus, bearing signs that they would be revealed July 31. After rain ruined the boxes, facilities cut them off — revealing new solar-powered trash and recycling bins.

The bins are from Big Belly Solar, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in these products. The bins use solar panels installed on their lids to compact trash, giving them up to five times the storage capacity of a regular bin of the same size. The bins contain a sensor to tell when they’re full, at which point they alert local waste management. With this sensor, facilities will only have to empty trash bins that are filled up, said UNT Sustainability outreach coordinator Nicole Cocco.

“This saves us a lot of time and money and labor costs,” Cocco said. UNT couldn’t keep recycling bins next to every trash can on campus before, she said, because the school didn’t have the staff to collect from that many different locations and the bins would perpetually be overflowing. But now, because trash collectors will only be visiting bins that are full, the school can have recycling everywhere.

Big Belly compactors have already been in Denton. The city bought 16 trash/recycling sets in 2011 and 15 more in 2012, and they are currently set up around Fry Street, the Square, the Civic Center and Emily Fowler Library. Denton recycling manager Shirlene Sitton said Big Belly keeps track of cities that have implemented their compactors and the company now holds Denton as one of the most efficient trash collectors in the nation.

Cocco said the new compactors are a part of UNT’s broader attempt to revamp its recycling efforts. Facilities did a study to find the highest-traffic outdoor areas, which is where they put the compactors. Indoor disposal is also being reorganized — instead of a small trash can in every room, buildings will now have large trash and recycling bins in the common areas. There will be a recycling bin next to every trash can on campus.

Also, the school is making a branding effort to push students to recycle more. Trash cans are labeled “landfill.” Cocco said this is to make sure students are thinking about where their trash is going.

“We have a throwaway culture, but most people don’t know where ‘away’ is,” she said. “What we wanted to do is remind people that this is going somewhere, and it’s right in your backyard.”

Feature Image: A new solar powered trash and recycling bin near the General Academic Building. The university has placed the new bins throughout the campus to strengthen its recycling effort. Photo by Joshua Knopp  – Senior Staff Writer

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