As the City continues efforts to keep streets clean and to encourage recycling, the newest tool to do so is about to be unveiled. Beginning as soon as this week, the Chelsea DPW will begin installing BigBelly solar barrels at eighteen locations.
“This is our next step at keeping Chelsea clean and green,” said City Manager Jay Ash. “Thanks to the Council support and approval, we’re spending $75,000 to make it more convenient for pedestrians to discard their trash and, for the first time, have public options for recycling. We expect that our streets, especially in the downtown, will be cleaner, and pleased to be improving recycling efforts and reducing the energy we expend in emptying barrels.”
The BigBelly solar system is a combination of a waste and recycling solution. On the waste end, the barrel is a trash compactor, thus allowing for days and even weeks of trash to be stored in the unit, thereby not requiring a daily pick-up. That avoidance saves both manpower and energy, and allows the DPW and its contractors to focus on other priority areas. Although BigBelly also offers a solar compactor for recyclables, the City opted to utilize a standards recycling container, believing the potential usage did not warrant the additional expense of a compactor. Both the waste and recycling systems have sensors that radio to the DPW how full they are, and, thus, allow for the most efficient utilization of resources to empty them.
“It’s great that we’re rolling out the BigBellys,” said Councillor Calvin Brown. “We don’t have enough barrels out on the street, and those that we do are often overflowing. This will solve multiple cleanliness problems for us.”
Each unit costs $4,700. Officials believe the cost versus placing out a $50 barrel or installing a $300 decorative barrel will be made up for in cleaner streets, reduced manpower costs to clean those streets and empty barrels, and savings related to less gas and equipment needed to empty city barrels now.
“I’m thrilled with the BigBelly system and look forward to both their deployment and use,” said Councillor Brian Hatleberg. “If we can use smart technology to make our streets cleaner and our environment better, the modest expense should pay for itself.”
Twelve of the units will be deployed in the downtown, with one each going to Central Avenue, Everett Avenue, upper Broadway, Cary Square and Washington Avenue in Prattville. The 18th is being held back for future deployment.
“We’ve approved the funding because we believe the technology will work. But for it to reach its maximum, we need residents to take notice and encourage each other to use them. If they are used, we’d appropriate even more money to place more down in additional locations,” said Council President Dan Cortell.
Big Belly units are already in several parks, including the newly reconstructed Washington Park.
“The units are working well and are well received up there,” advised Councillor Paul Murphy. “Being able to do this again demonstrates how important cleanliness is to us and how resolved we are to do something about it.”
Ash added that the City’s financial position is also making a difference.
“We’ve got plenty of great ideas, but they almost all cost money. As we continue to manage our financial situation and bring in development, though, these types of improvements continue to be possible,” concluded Ash.