Collecting waste in urban and suburban environments can get messy, especially when sidewalk cans overflow or carts get rifled through by hungry raccoons. But in dealing with both of those messy situations, companies are using better designs and technology to help reduce waste and keep public spaces cleaner.
DTE Energy, a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide, recently announced it was kicking off a pilot program this summer in downtown Detroit to test new trash compactors and recycling units. DTE will install seven of the solar-powered units made by Bigbelly of Needham, Mass., throughout the city.
The compactors eliminate trash overflow, which helps beautify the neighborhood and keeps pests away, says Vanessa Waters, DTE Energy spokeswoman. The solar panel on the unit extracts energy from the sun to continuously charge the battery powering the system. When the unit needs to be emptied the smart system sends a signal via its CLEAN management software to Waste Management of Michigan.
“At DTE, we continuously explore environmentally sound ideas to help sustain our neighborhoods,” says David Meador, vice chairman and chief administrative officer for DTE Energy. “We believe the Bigbelly project will be good for our customers, our employees and the Detroit neighborhood where we are based and the larger Detroit community we serve,” he says.
Leila Dillon, vice president of marketing at Bigbelly, says the system is a smart waste and recycling management solution that gathers, consolidates and analyzes data from smart collection stations. It provides real-time fleet status, alerts and reports.
“Our smart, cloud-connected system beautifies public spaces and supercharges operations. Cities, towns, colleges, corporate campuses, and healthcare facilities in over 47 countries around the globe leverage the Bigbelly system to change their space,” she says. “The solar-powered smart waste and recycling system features unique compaction technology to deliver increased capacity and total waste containment. The cloud connection provides real-time actionable data to ensure maximized operational efficiency. Customers around the globe are embracing the innovative Bigbelly system to transform their public spaces.”
The CLEAN Management Console is the centerpiece of the Bigbelly system. This web-based dashboard provides real-time data including fullness levels, collection frequency, and fleet status. The CLEAN Mobile App enables waste companies to manage their fleets from any mobile device.
“The waste and recycling stations are the smart, solar-powered, street-tough hardware component of the Bigbelly system. The unique station compaction technology captures five times more waste and recycling than an average bin. Compaction coupled with cloud connection dramatically decreases your collection frequency with real-time station status data,” says Dillon.
Bigbelly will continue to breed new features, functions and applications into its IoT technology platform.
“New technology available and Bigbelly’s unique position as an IoT platform provide for a complete solution capable of delivering other future-generation technologies to public spaces (including Wi-Fi, urban intelligence data, and so much more),” says Dillon. “The system delivers an essential core city service from smart, cloud connected self-powered stations, which occupy valuable real estate without additional infrastructure on city streets. The system can also host next-generation technologies to perpetually add value to cities and their constituents.”
Another company stepping up its cart technology is Rehrig Pacific Co., a Los Angeles-based company that provides logistics solutions for the waste, recycling, and resource management industry.
Derick Foster, senior industrial designer at Rehrig Pacific, says the company’s new EnviroGuard cart is a combination of many designs.
“It works by combining these key design features into one cart: (American National Standards Institute) ANSI compatibility, stability, strength, technology, weather resistant, rodent-proof handle and a Franzen gravity lock,” he says.
Foster says his biggest challenge in designing the new cart for Rehrig Pacific was understanding his biggest opponent: the raccoon.
“I spent a lot of time researching and studying how these animals react to different objects and what types of actions or motions they were capable of performing. I created and tested many different prototypes to develop the best solution that would be easy for a human but a challenge for rodents,” he says.
The carts will be in full production by the end of August at Rehrig Pacific’s Erie, Pa. plant.
“We have a lot of customers who are interested in using this cart design on both the East and West Coast regions of the U.S.,” says Foster. “I would say that by early September, we will see this cart in service in a few major cities across the U.S.”
Rehrig Pacific Co. offers a variety of 35-, 65- and 95-gallon carts to accommodate to any type waste service. The company also produces two-, three-, four-, six- and eight-yard commercial containers for large waste.
This year, the company also is launching its new 95-gallon EG line of carts that offer a 44 percent increase in freight efficiency, quick and easy asset tracking, fully enclosed catch bar and improved durability.
“At Rehrig Pacific, our design team is always looking at ways to improve our products in order to increase customer value, reduce our carbon foot print and deliver a product that we are proud to stand behind,” says Foster.