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High-tech trash cans coming for Santa Fe

SANTA FE — There was trash talk at the city’s Public Works Committee meeting on Monday and it had nothing to do with the men’s college basketball championship game.

The committee unanimously approved a $93,243 contract with Bigbelly, Inc., of Needham, Mass., for 12 solar-powered trash compacting bins to be placed in various locations around the city.

That works out to be about $7,770 per trash bin, but these aren’t just any trash bins. Not only are they solar powered, the SC5.5/HC5 model is fully automated and microprocessor controlled, according to documents Bigbelly provided the city. It also has sensors embedded inside that can “read and report fullness levels (and) collection activity into integrated software platform.”

That comes with a 4G LTE wireless data link for remote monitoring and managing. The specs also list a GPS assisted location service.

Santa Fe may buy more solar-powered trash cans like this one on the Plaza that compacts the trash inside. (T.S. Last/Journal)

The bins have a close to 5-to-1 compacting ratio. The company says that 150 gallons of uncompacted trash can be reduced to 33 gallons of compacted trash.

The city already has one such trash bin. It’s on the downtown Plaza.

“It’s been there for four years and hasn’t required any maintenance,” said Richard Thompson, the city’s parks division director.

Thompson said the city has tentatively selected the locations for the trash bins, mostly based on where the trash compactors would get the most use. Five would be placed downtown, four would go around the south end of the Railyard Park, one north of Market Station, which is also in the Railyard district, and two would be placed near bridges along the Santa Fe River Trail.

The bins are about the size of a regular trash can, almost 50 inches tall and approximately two-feet square and weigh 270 pounds apiece. They are equipped with a hopper in front, which also has a sensor that records how many times the hopper is opened and alerts maintenance people when the hopper is jammed.

Approval of the contract is scheduled to come up before the City Council on Wednesday.

Last month, the city approved a $277,785 contract with a different company to provide 226 trash/recycling units in city parks. Thompson said those receptacles are meant to replace what he called “swinging oil drums” that are used as garbage cans, but are referred to as “drums on stilts” in city documents. The newer receptacles have separate slots into which either garbage or recyclables are to be placed.

Both the trash/recycling units and the solar-powered trash compactors will be paid for out of the same grant from the state Department of Finance and Administration and earmarked for park improvements. The city has to act by June 30 in order to receive the $440,000 grant.