Upper West Side Gets its First Solar-Powered Trash Can

By Emily Frost on February 5, 2013 8:06am 

UPPER WEST SIDE — Sunshine is sweeping away the trash.

A new BigBelly solar trash can at West 77th Street and Columbus Avenue, the first on the Upper West Side according to Columbus Avenue BID President Barbara Adler, made its debut Feb.1.

The trash can, which costs around $3,000 and is sponsored by Shake Shack, uses solar power to compact garbage.

BigBelly Solar cans, which are already in Union Square and at other busy city intersections, have the capacity to compress up to 150 gallons of trash. The compression greatly reduces the need for pick-up, which is managed on Columbus Avenue by Doe Fund employees. 

Trash has been a problem at the intersection, according to Adler, because of the popularity of Shake Shack. 

"[Shake Shack] has overwhelmed the garbage cans on their corner and across the street," she said. The compactor will prevent trash overflow and reduce the space the trash takes up in a landfill.

"These things are amazing," said Adler. "It holds up to seven times as much as a regular garbage can."  

Adler said she is hopeful that a grant promised by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal will allow the BID to install the trash cans all over the neighborhood this year. 

The new can, which has a hinged door that prevents rats from foraging, is part of a new streetscape installation sponsored by the BID to help beautify the block between West 76th and 77th streets, which it views as an eyesore.

Streetscape installation will begin by March 1 and last for three weeks, said Adler. The new addition, in front of MS 245's play yard where the weekly Green Flea is held, will include six new benches, five new tree pits and in-ground solar lighting. 

The BID hopes the streetscape's "green" aspects will prompt interest from local schools and residents, especially the new bioswell, an eco-friendly storm water removal system.  

The cans will be popping up elsewhere in the neighborhood too. City Councilwoman Gale Brewer has garnered $50,000 in public funding to install several BigBelly Solar cans this year in Verdi Park at the entrance to the 72nd Street subway in an attempt to combat the park's rat problem. 

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