Seahorse Power
New York City is testing this BigBelly trash can and compactor at various locations. The unit compacts trash using power from solar cells on top. staff and news service reports
updated 3/7/2005 9:36:36 AM ET 2005-03-07T14:36:36

The city is testing a $4,500 trash can that is able to sense when it's full and automatically compact the garbage inside using solar power.

The can — called the BigBelly — was tried in Chinatown starting on Feb. 14 and then moved to Tribeca on Feb. 28, says Department of Sanitation spokeswoman Taryn Duckett.

"We're testing it out to see how effective it is environmentally," she said.

When garbage inside the BigBelly reaches a certain level, it is automatically compacted, making room for more. When the BigBelly is full, a red indicator light goes on.

Unit signals base when full
The BigBelly is even wirelessly enabled to call for a pickup.

The BigBelly can reduce trash to a quarter of its original size, according to the company that makes it, Seahorse Power Company.

The goal of the can is to reduce the number of pickups needed, cutting down on the diesel fuel used by collection trucks.

New York City has been checking its BigBelly daily to make sure it is working properly. Duckett said it was too early to tell whether the can, which the city decided to try because the company offered to provide it, was a success.

Also at Vail, Mass. college
Seahorse Power, which is based in Westborough, Mass., was founded in 2003. The BigBelly is its flagship product.

"The units retail for about $4,500 and can be paid for monthly for as little as $100 a month," Seahorse president James Poss told That cost, he contended, is easily paid for by the reduced truck trips to pick up the trash.

Poss added that Vail ski resort in Colorado and BabsonCollegein Massachusetts are among the clients that have purchased more than 50 BigBelly units.

Others are being tested in Orlando, Florida, and parts of Massachusetts, he said.'s Miguel Llanos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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