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Big Belly Solar Compactor

This Week's Find


Chances are you got some green gifts for the holidays. When you are done with those consumer items, you could put them in the Big Belly Solar Compactor at the corner of Eighth and Bannock streets and feel really good about it.

Boise's only Big Belly--a demo model of the revolutionary new solar-powered trash compactors that are changing the way cities deal with public refuse--has a few really cool features. Thanks to a little solar panel and motor, the black box crushes its garbage about once a day, freeing up downtown crews from checking it all of the time. By crushing trash en situ--Big Belly's belly fits four or five times as much garbage as a regular public receptacle--you save room in garbage trucks, which saves fuel, which saves money, er, the planet.

Philly, which put 500 Big Bellies in its downtown in 2009, expects to save $13 million in trash collection during the next decade. The vessels even notify crews when they are full via a little wireless signal.

Boise's Big Belly could do that too, but since it's a demo, it isn't yet broadcasting its fullness.

Geoff Hundt of the Downtown Boise Association likes the idea, but thinks it may fit the Greenbelt better, so that remote cans could be more self-sufficient.

"Downtown generates quite a bit of trash, but not as much as something like a Disneyland or a football stadium," Hundt said.

Rod McDowell, owner of West-Pak, the Idaho distributor for Big Belly, names one other benefit: Big Belly has a lid, so it doesn't smell.