WUFT News

Some Of Gainesville’s Game Day Garbage Cans Are Going Green

By on September 17th, 2013
A solar-powered trash compactor and recycling unit stands in front of Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille in downtown Gainesville. The City of Gainesville Solid Waste Division purchased four compactor units, which will be added along West University Avenue.

Beatrice Dupuy / WUFT News

A solar-powered trash compactor and recycling unit stands in front of Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille in downtown Gainesville. The City of Gainesville Solid Waste Division purchased four compactor units, which will be added along West University Avenue.

When looking for a place to throw out tailgating trash, locals may find the garbage container of the future.

In an effort to cut down on game day litter, Gainesville’s Solid Waste Division purchased four solar-powered trash compactors and recycling units from BigBelly Solar.

The additional units, which cost around $6,000 a piece, will be located along West University Avenue between the Swamp Restaurant and the Stadium Club. More than 20 units have already been placed around the city.

The units, which compact waste and recyclables through solar power, are expected to be placed after the second home game.

“In the fall with home football games and students returning to town, those few blocks right there are high traffic areas for pedestrians,” said Steve Joplin, Gainesville’s solid waste manager. “We did not feel like we were providing enough capacity.”

Joplin said the trash cans are emptied about three times on home football game weekends. The compactors, he said, should last the weekend without running out of space.

The city has to pay each time the garbage company makes a stop to pick up garbage. Even if a trash can is not full, garbage companies will stop and pick up the trash.

Through wireless technology, the compactors are able to send a text message to the Solid Waste Division and the garbage company informing them when the units are full.

“It will actually pay for itself in three or four years by reducing the charges we pay for garbage pickup,” Joplin said.

The compacting units can hold up to four or five times what a 50-gallon trash container can typically hold, he said.

Gainesville’s Regional Transit System uses nine solar trash compactors at various bus stops. RTS began using the compactors in 2011. Each solar trash compactor without the recycling unit costs around $4,000.

None of the RTS stops currently have recycling compactors.

Chip Skinner, RTS spokesperson, said purchasing the recycling compactor unit is cost prohibitive.

“We don’t have recycling bins at any location,” he said. “It’s an additional cost to have the company pick those up.”

Skinner said it could take about five years to recover the money from the compactors.

“Even though it could take a number of years to recoup our money back, going from having a single pick up day versus having to pick up every five days helps us out with maintaining the bus stops and keeping them clean,” Skinner said.

Alachua County is considering plans to purchase its own compactors.

Patrick Irby, Alachua County waste alternatives manager, said the county is deciding whether to place the compactors in county parks to save on fuel and pickup costs.

“Our parks are very spread out around the county so that’s a lot of miles we put on for (trash) collection,” Irby said. “The compactors can keep us from driving to the other side of the county for an empty bin.”


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