Georgetown has installed twenty environmentally-friendly BigBelly solar trash compactors on campus as a part of an ongoing sustainability campaign.
Three BigBelly cans premiered at last year’s Green Fair on campus. Karen Frank, Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing, said that these initial containers “proved workable,” leading to the introduction of twenty more this year.
The BigBelly Solar Compactors may look futuristic and high tech, but the idea behind them is simple. As the trash in the container increases, the compactor within the container automatically turns on. Drawing on power from an attached solar panel, trash within the container is compacted to 20 percent of its normal size, Director of Media Relations at Georgetown University Andy Pino said.
By using the space within the container more efficiently, fewer trash collections are needed. This saves fuel and energy costs associated with the extra trips for collection. Recycling bins have also been attached to the BigBelly containers on campus.
“Please don’t call them trash cans,” Frank said. “They are a lot more than trash cans. They are solar compactors collecting not only trash, but also recyclables.”
Jonathan Cohn (COL `10), treasurer of Georgetown’s environmental club Eco-Action, agrees the containers mean more than just better trash collection. He said the BigBelly compactors make recycling easier for campus members.
“You have [an] image built in your mind of what the different options are, rather than having a random bin as your go-to source,” Cohn said.
During this academic year, Eco-Action will be focusing on better waste management habits, focusing on the line, “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Cohn said the next step is changing habits for the overall reduction of waste in addition to increasing recycling practices.
While these containers are not a new product, they are relatively new to the Washington, D.C. area.
According to Frank, so far Georgetown has more containers than any other institution in the region.
Frank added that Georgetown’s carbon footprint has decreased by 16 percent over the past three years, with a goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent before 2020.