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Solar Trash Compactors Coming Soon to Short North Sidewalks

 Olivia Bower Solar Trash Compactors Coming Soon to Short North SidewalksPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The city of Columbus bought several trash-compacting garbage cans to put on sidewalks in the Short North, but they haven’t been used yet.

Working on streets in cities across the world, these trash cans – solar compactors – are made by BigBelly Solar to harness solar energy to compact trash and recyclable materials, if desired.

According to an ordinance passed by the Public Service & Transportation Committee in November 2013, the Mayor’s Office of Environmental Stewardship could spend $39,054 on seven Big Belly solar compactors – which have not yet been installed.

Leslie Strader, a policy advisor in the Office of Environmental Stewardship, said some difficulties have blocked the way for progress in implementing the solar compactors.

“We had thought they would have been in use by now,” she said, “but they are more difficult to install than a standard trash/recycling container because you need to have the space, the sunlight, the approval of the neighborhood on placement.  We consider this project a pilot, so this is all part of the learning experience.”

Because of those issues, the locations proposed for the compactors will change a bit, Strader said, but the original locations included

  • 841 N High
  • 611 N High
  • 714 N High
  • 1155 N High
  • Southwest corner of 4th and High
  • North Market (2)

Strader said that because of litter and overflowing trash containers, the Short North Alliance has expressed appreciation for the compactors, and Betsy Pandora agrees.

“The Short North Alliance is pleased to be able to help facilitate the Short North Arts District’s participation in this exciting new program led by the mayor,” said Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, a non-profit organization that works to benefit the district.

Pandora also said the alliance has made recommendations for locations of solar compactors based on interest and where trash builds up the most.

Overall, she said she thinks the impact the solar compactors will have in the long run is the best part of this project.

“What is particularly exciting about this new infrastructure is that it will allow for a broader level of recycling to take place right on High Street and promote sustainability on the street.”

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