Are Philly’s Solar-Powered Trash Cans Too Dirty to Use?

Sure, they helped the city save $900,000 in one year, but are our super-fancy, solar-powered trash cans really all they’re cracked up to be?

That’s a question TreeHugger contributor Michael Graham Richard recently asked after Motherboard posted a glowing review of the environmentally friendly disposal system.

In case you’re unaware (or just a habitual litterer), the cans use off-grid solar energy to compact trash and notify workers when they’ve reached maximum trash capacity, thus allowing the city to save manpower and money.

But, as Richard and other commenters point out, they’re also filthy f*cking dirty.

The solar-powered trash compactors make a lot of sense in theory, but apparently, they don’t always work as intended in practice. Here are a few of the comments from locals:

“I lived at 3rd and South for a while both before and after these were deployed. The old cans were emptied once or twice a day by sanitation workers. Very often, those sanitation workers would also pick up trash off the street around the cans. When the Big Belly’s were installed, they started coming around every other day or so instead. No one touches these things. People simply throw their trash at them and walk away. I once saw a Big Belly covered by a pile of trash near 5th and South.

I got really good at opening them with the heal of my shoe, or using a napkin. Very often, though, they were either jammed shut or stuffed full.

The city probably could have just stopped collecting trash altogether to achieve the same result and save even more money.” –numbsafari

We’d like to thank Numbsafari for completely nailing this issue. Maybe we can use that extra million bucks to hire a roving posse of white-gloved men to wipe down our trash cans? Just a thought…


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