Virginia Tech uses solar-powered trash cans to increase recyclin - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Virginia Tech uses solar-powered trash cans to increase recycling

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There's a new way to cut back on trash pick-up.

Next time you head to Virginia Tech, check out the university's new solar-powered trash cans. There are 100 all across campus.

They're called BigBelly Solar compactors and their name says it all. They're big and take trash and recycling. One side of the container collects recycling of all plastic, metal, and glass items. The other is for waste such as paper, food wrappers, food waste and Styrofoam. The cans use renewable solar power to compact the trash inside and create space for more garbage. The compactors compact at a five to one ratio meaning they can hold five times the trash in one container. Sensors also alert campus maintenance workers via email when a can is full and needs to be collected.

"We had several areas, especially around bus stops and high traffic areas out at the residence halls that we would have overflowing containers three or four times a day," said Director of Facilities, Anthony Watson. "That has been reduced to one collection a day or sometimes every other day."

Watson says the cans reduce costs since trash doesn't have to be picked up as often and saves money in services that would normally be contracted out.

The cans are being leased through BigBelly.

Virginia Tech says it collects more than 3,600 tons of trash and 2,300 tons of recyclable material. Its recycling rate is 44 percent and has steadily grown since 2008. Virginia Tech aims to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020.

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