By Ron Leir
Tired of seeing a plethora of overflow trash cluttering the sidewalks in the town’s retail district, especially after weekend deposits, Kearny is unleashing a new weapon to counteract the unseemly collections.
It’s the solar-powered Big- Belly trash receptacle. The town got four of the 4-footplus tall, hefty “cans” which, according to the vendor’s specifications, weigh in at a nifty 270 pounds apiece.
Kearny Health Officer Ken Pincus thinks they’ll make a huge difference over the old cans they’re replacing on Kearny Ave. because the cans are actually mini-compactors, crushing the mounds of garbage as they are tossed in by passers-by.
“Overflowing trash cans, litter and illegal dumping of trash have been a continual problem on the sidewalks and streets of the town of Kearny. The town needed a new tool to address this concern. The BigBelly Solar solution provides the town an efficient way to manage our waste collection that reflects the town’s overall commitment to sustainability while keeping our streets and sidewalks cleaner,” Pincus said.
Because the new cans are sealed, animals should have little chance to gain access and the stink from any overflow garbage should be significantly reduced, if not eliminated, he added.
Each of the can’s bins hold the equivalent of 33 gallons of trash – up to five times more than the capacity of the old cans – thanks to the internal compaction system, which is designed to crunch the stuff when the receptacle is full.
The device, which has the appearance of a mailbox, seems simple enough to use: You open the “door,” drop in your trash and close the door. The trash drops down the chute and into a liner collection bag.
A wireless signal technology alerts the town’s garbage hauler, Cali Carting, how full the cans are at any given time to allow for more efficient pickup scheduling by the hauler.
Each compacting cycle takes about 40 seconds, according to the specifications prepared by the manufacturer, BigBelly Solar of Newton, Mass.
The cans even come equipped with a GPS tracking system so that if someone somehow manages to remove them, the town’s Public Works Department will be able to hunt them down, Pincus noted.
Uprooting the receptacles will be hard to accomplish, however, not only because of their weight but also because the town’s DPW has bolted them down to the sidewalk.
“My concern was that kids would be leaning on them,” Pincus said, so he decided to go the extra step and lock them into place.
The cans have been placed in four locations along Kearny Ave., between Bergen and Garfield Aves.: One is in front of the Kearny Public Library, one is directly across the street near northwest corner of Afton St., another is about a block away in front of the Chase Bank and the other is in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts shop.
These spots were selected because they are in a retail area that draws a lot of consumer traffic, Pincus said.
DPW has keys to open the galvanized sheet metal steel trash units and replace liner bags as needed. DPW will make arrangements with Cali for easy access to the units.
Total cost for the units and bags, including bolting, was $3,429 each, or a total of $14,539, including a one-year warranty for any defects in materials and/or workmanship, plus one year free for the wireless notification system transmission to Cali. The unit vendor is Direct Environmental Corp. of the Bronx, N.Y.
Pincus said the cans were acquired with a grant awarded Kearny from the state Clean Communities program.
Direct Environmental Corp. offered the town an option to purchase a double set of units, one for regular trash and a second for recyclables, but Pincus said the cost would have been $6,000 for each of the dual units so, instead, he said the town has bought “green recycling units separately, for about $200 each, which will be placed alongside the BigBelly cans.”
Mayor Alberto Santos said he welcomed the new cans, adding that, “Litter and improper disposal of garbage is a very significant quality of life concern. If these four new cans help in the battle against litter, we will expand the program to other locations.”
In the past, Pincus said, the town has tried to attack the trash issue by hiring extra part-time employees to issue summonses for failing to maintain property “and we’ve tried doing extra trash pickups,” but those efforts have had limited success.
Asked whether the town was looking at beefing up litter enforcement activities as another anti-litter strategy, Pincus said: “We’re currently reviewing potential changes to our litter ordinance.”