I was out for one of my morning walks last week with Janna, and I spied one of these crazy looking garbage cans.  The thing looks and sort of acts like a blue Post Office mailbox standing sentry on a corner, but this trash bin was something different.  Why did the new trash bin say “Big Bully” on the side?

As I got closer to the box — what I thought said “Big Bully” was actually “BigBelly” — and I was bemused by the “Solar Compactor” under the brand name.  The trash bin is made of metal and a giant solar panel sits atop the bin.

I decided to throw away my empty .99 cent Dunkin Donuts cup of iced tea to test out the miraculousness of this new device.

The front of the BigBelly opens quietly and smoothly and I can manage the whole operation using just my Johnny Cash finger.  When I closed the chute, two of three lights flashed — one red, one green — in front of the solar panel.

It had rained overnight, and the droplets were still wet atop the BigBelly protective plastic lens covering the solar panels.

After the walk, I ran home to find out what the BigBelly was doing curbside in Jersey City.  I quickly found the answer:

The Jersey City Incinerator Authority is in the process of installing 100 solar-powered trash compactors throughout the city, a move the city says will help save time, money and fuel.

The bins, which compact trash to 20 percent of its normal bulk, will replace standard bins located near bus shelters in every ward and on the J. Owen Grundy pier, according to city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.

“On-site compaction reduces trash pickups, saving time, money and fuel, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Morrill said. “Garbage trucks will only need to empty the 100 solar compactors approximately twice a week as opposed to once a day.”

The standard garbage bins sometimes have to be emptied twice a day, she added.

The city is paying for the compactors with $436,138 of a $2.3 million federal grant it was awarded last year to implement energy-efficient projects, according to Morrill.

How fantastic!  I love it that these city-owned trash cans are now sealed.  I can tell you right now that, after living in Jersey City for nine years, there’s no way the previous city trash cans were emptied “twice a day.”  Harr!  Twice a week… MAYBE!

Over the next few days, more BigBelly bins started sprouting up around our neighborhood.  In a four-block radius we currently have five BigBelly units out of 100 total.

The BigBelly cans look good and they blend in with the surroundings.

I wonder if the BigBelly bins talk with each other as they stand across the street?

Do the machines communicate with the city to tell them they need emptying?

BigBelly Solar Recycling bins are a great addition to the Jersey City landscape because they save money, they look good, and they don’t stank in the putrid August sun like the sad brethren they replaced.

Posted by David Boles

David Boles was born in Nebraska and his MFA is from Columbia University in the City of New York. He is an Author, Lyricist, Playwright, Publisher, Editor, Actor, Designer, Director, Poet, Producer, and Boodle Boy for print, radio, television, film, the web and the live stage. With more than 50 books in print, David continues to write 2MM words a year. He has authored over 25K articles and published more. Read the Prairie Voice Archive at Boles.com | Buy his books at David Boles Books Writing & Publishing | Earn the world with David Boles University | Get a script doctored at Script Professor | Touch American Sign Language mastery at Hardcore ASL.


  1. David,

    I remember when Princeton got bins like these. They are brilliant as they don’t fill up as quickly and I love the fact that you can’t smell them at all! Clean streets, clean air!



    1. That’s neat, Gordon! I think the BigBelly got its start in Philadelphia.



  2. […] week ago, in our Panopticonic blog, I wrote an article — BigBelly Solar Recycling in Jersey City — and less than a week later, those divine BigBelly landmarks in our urban core have become […]



  3. […] solar trash cans in Jersey City: A week ago, in our Panopticonic blog, I wrote an article — BigBelly Solar Recycling in Jersey City — and less than a week later, those divine BigBelly landmarks in our urban core have become […]



  4. Well, in our place Baldwin ave. corner Court House Pl. the bin was full for two weeks now. We cannot open the bin coz its full. Nobody collects. Useless $4,000.00 something bin.



    1. There are now stickers on all the Big Belly bins with phone numbers you can call to tell them the box is full. There are code lights on the bin that tell you how full the box is or not.

      There’s been a lot of heavy street construction on Newark for a long time now, so I wonder if the collectors have a hard time making their rounds?



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