The 4:1 compacting trash receptacle is self-powered by solar energy and software-controlled. When a sensor in the BigBelly solar compactor judges it is full, it generates a command to trigger a compaction cycle. The software also takes the sensor inputs and communicates with the CLEAN Management Console, giving real-time data on which locations require a collection.
Site amenities on city streetscapes are chosen for their looks, durability and, sometimes, because they are ''green.'' Chicago, under the Mayor Daley administration, signed a contract with BigBelly Solar in March 2011 to provide up to 1,600 solar-powered trash compactors with wireless monitoring and companion recycling units. The high-tech solar garbage and recycling barrels, however, were rudely uprooted and replaced with wire trash cans during the May 20-21 NATO summit. The reason was a matter of security. The fancy cans hide what's inside; whatever is deposited in the wire cans is readily eyeballed by security details.
The company estimates there are some15,000 BigBelly Solar waste and recycling stations on streets around the world.