This summer St Ives is trialling 6 BigBelly Solar bins which harvests energy from the sun and uses it to compact waste to an eighth of its size. Cornwall Council has had the ordinary looking, but hi-tech, litter bins installed on the harbour to trial their effectiveness and to assess their impact.

The new bins will replace the large wheeled bins which have previously been used on the harbour during the summer season. Due to their size, the former litter bins were often used incorrectly by individuals depositing commercial and holiday home waste. It is hoped this trial will help understand the issues associated with this problem as well as trialling the system for any operational efficiencies. Cory Environmental, cleansing and collections contractor, will continue to provide collections for the new bins.

The innovative BigBelly solar bin looks like a standard litter bin but it contains a solar PV module which provides the power for an internal compactor which is used to compress the litter. A Bigbelly bin takes up roughly the same footprint as an existing street bin but, because of the compactor, can apparently hold up to eight times more waste than the average bin.

Each compactor comes equipped with a wireless monitoring system which alerts the collections team when the bin is ready for emptying. This information is used to schedule collections more efficiently with savings predicted in expenditures such as vehicle journeys and fuel costs.

The BigBelly bins are also designed to prevent access from animals and birds and are an excellent deterrent for seagulls.

Cornwall Council Portfolio Holder for Housing and Environment, Joyce Duffin said: “These new solar powered ‘Bigbelly’ bins will help to tackle litter at one of Cornwall’s busiest summer destinations. We will carefully monitor this trial and see if the bins are a useful addition to our work on waste.”

The BigBelly solar bin trial will continue until mid-September and the bins are being monitored carefully for emptying requirements, litter bin weights and issues. After the trial the Council will assess the bins for their costs and benefits.

Story posted: 10 August 2015