Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Solar-Powered Trash Compactors in Somerville and Boston

Not too long ago in the Somerville Journal, I came across an article about the BigBelly Trash Compactors that are making an appearance in various spots around Boston and the surrounding areas, including a few that just premiered in Davis Square, about a 20-minute walk from the zen kitchen. The compactors, created by Needham, MA-based Seahorse Power, use the sun to compact up to 150 gallons of trash, compared to the 40-50 gallons that the old bins would hold. This means that DPW staff only has to empty the bins once a day, which stands to save the city a ton of money in transportation and labor costs (the old bins had to be emptied up to eight times per day), not to mention the fact it should result in a bit less traffic annoyance on Elm Street, which anyone who's been driving through there can attest is a VERY good thing. Plus, it saves fuel and doesn't require energy from the grid to power it, which means significant environmental benefits as well. How can you go wrong?

When I was looking for more info on the subject, however, I came across this Treehugger post that makes a good point: while the environmental savings provided by these compactors is surely a great step forward, why aren't there recycling bins next to them? A good portion of the trash going into these BigBellies can be recycled; why don't we use some of these savings to start a recycling program as well? I've seen recycling bins in Porter and Harvard Square; it might be different towns (Cambridge vs. Somerville), but it shouldn't be that hard to get a decent recycling program organized.

Of course, it's too early to see what's going to come of this new environmental effort on the part of my fair city; perhaps it's already in the works and they're just waiting for the new budget year to get a recycling program started. We'll see. But at least we're making some strides forward, even if the folks at Treehugger don't think it's enough.

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