SOLAR TRASH COMPACTOR SETTLES IN DOWNTOWN
Two weeks ago, downtown received a modern, technologically advanced trash receptacle.
The Sanitation Department with the help of the Conway Downtown Partnership and the Mayor’s Office installed the first solar powered trash and recycling compactor, known as “Big Belly Solar,” on the side walk of Oak Street across from Bob’s Grill.
Big Belly Solar holds as much trash as three dumpsters, and when full sends an automated message to the Sanitation Department letting them know it needs to be emptied.
The Conway Downtown Partnership said the thought behind Big Belly Solar is for pedestrians and shop owners to use the receptacle in place of the large green and blue trash cans that appear on downtown sidewalks.
Big Belly Solar is a bronze color meant to match with the ascetics of downtown, but Jack Bell, Conway City Council chief of staff, said he is concerned that it may blend in too much, and plans to place logos on the receptacle so it shows up a little better.
Fletcher and Sherry Smith, co-owners of Fletcher Smith’s Jewelers, said they have enjoyed the new recycling option.
“We have lunch downtown almost everyday and it’s always in one of those Styrofoam things, so I’m so excited to have a convenient place to put our Styrofoam,” Sherry said.
Bell said the new trash receptacle is more attractive than the green and blue bins that currently sit outside of businesses, and it is fitted for retail because retail stores don’t generate a lot of trash and most of what they do generate is recyclable.
But Sherry said the only disadvantage she sees as a retail business owner, is that Big Belly Solar’s recycling opening is too small for the large cardboard boxes the company often uses for shipping.
According to Bell, the trash receptacle only comes in one size, but the city may be able to “work something out” for businesses.
Fletcher said the city used to provide recycling for businesses, but there wasn’t enough room for the blue bin at the back door of his shop.
“The only alternative is to walk all the way down the alley to Mike’s Place, and it’s too far to go, so this is a great alternative,” he said.
This first bin is serving as a test, said Cheryl Harrington, sanitation director.
“Once it is full we will see how well the components work,” she said. “It is a phase to see how long it takes to pick it up, if we receive complaints of smell and we’re testing the solar components.”
Harrington has been to several waste management education programs that talk about the benefits of Big Belly Solar in cities across the country.
“Just from looking at what is happening in other big cities, like California, it seems like a great concept that we could bring to Conway,” she said. “It will bring more technology to the trash department to make our downtown a great showcase.”
The double capacity trash and recycling compactor cost the city $6,000. Harrington said Big Belly Solar’s price will be made up in fuel savings because the Sanitation Department will not have to make as many trips downtown to collect trash.
If the test compactor proves to be a success, Harrington wants to purchase more as funding becomes available. Possibly placing the compactors in parks and on college campuses.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)