Big Belly (2)

In June, a BigBelly Solar recycling station was installed near the Solar House located on UIW’s main campus. The station consists of two units, a SmartBelly and a BigBelly. The units are completely wireless and independently powered by a Photovoltaic panel mounted on top of the trash compacting unit and house a battery that stores solar energy for use during non-solar hours. The battery powers the sensors, communication system and compacting motor. The BigBelly compactor holds over 150 gallons of waste while the SmartBelly holds 50 gallons.

Each unit measures the trash and recycling levels with internal sensors via the CLEAN Monitoring system. With a Web interface notification, levels can be preset. Once the preset level is reached, the unit sends an email via satellite link to the responsible party notifying them that the unit is ready to be emptied. The system also provides insights into current status and collection history.

“This provides efficient resource management when emptying and servicing the unit,” said Daniel Potter, Solar House project manager. “It is still very early but these units will allow us to track the volume of recyclables versus general waste collected at the site.”

The use of BigBelly technology may potentially improve operational efficiency of waste collection by reducing the frequency of pickups, placing fewer miles and hours on collection vehicles, saving money on fuel and vehicle replacement, and reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, BigBelly can provide valuable data as to the university’s waste and recycling impact and management.

To learn more about BigBelly, visit