Solar Powered Trash Compactors Contribute to Webster's Focus on Sustainability

big belly solar recycling bin Webster University students on the St. Louis campus have a new environmentally friendly option for recycling and trash disposal. The University recently installed new solar-powered recycling and trash compactors as a part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability.

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 29, 2013 – Webster University students on the St. Louis campus have a new environmentally friendly option for recycling and trash disposal. The University recently installed new solar-powered recycling and trash compactors as a part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability.

The compactors, made by BigBelly Solar, utilize a solar powered battery to automatically compact materials as needed, rather than requiring staff to empty the units numerous times throughout the day.

“President Beth Stroble has made sustainability a priority for the University,” said Geoff Janovsky, Facilities Operations, Campus Recycling. “The addition of these compactors exhibits an overall commitment to finding environmentally-friendly solutions to reducing trash on campus.”

There are currently four recycling compactors and one trash compactor on campus. An electric beam inside the container determines when the materials need to be automatically compacted. Once the units are filled, a notification is sent to the facilities staff alerting them that the unit needs to be emptied.

BigBelly Solar conducted a cost benefit analysis of using the compactors on Webster University's campus and estimated that the University could save up to $100,000 in ten years.

“A traditional recycling bin is emptied every other day,” said Dan Hankins, Grounds Supervisor. “These new compactors are able to hold more material and the notifications allow us to be more efficient in how they are emptied which helps free up the staff for other key duties.” 

“These solar compactors reflect a team effort across all aspects of our campus,” said Dr. Greg Gunderson, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer “Sustainability is a marathon, not just a sprint. As such these new compactors increase the ability and reduce the cost for recycling over the long term.” 

The compactors were partially paid for by a grant from the St. Louis-Jefferson Solid Waste Management District. Funds for the District Grant Program come from a surcharge on waste disposed of in Missouri's landfills. The Missouri Solid Waste Management Law imposes a $2.11 per ton surcharge on waste disposed of at sanitary and demolition landfills to generate revenue for the Missouri Solid Waste Management Fund. A portion of this fund comes back to the District to be used to award grants for waste reduction, education, recycling, composting, market development and household hazardous waste projects.