Spotted: a Big Belly….

By Mike McGowan

Big Belly Compactor

Big Belly Compactor

No, it wasn’t that long beaked bird with the big appetite…nor was it that fellow on the train, but rather an innovative trash bin system. It’s a Big Belly Solar Waste Compactor system on the corner of West Broadway and Barclay, just up the block from the World Trade Center Path Station. It showed up with little or no fanfare and it doesn’t carry much in the way of information. So, we did a little digging.

It turns out that Mayor Bloomberg announced the arrival of 30 Big Belly units with three bins – one each for cans and bottles, garbage and paper – this past March. At the launch, the Mayor promised that there would be more than 1,000 units in place in all five boroughs by year’s end. The first 30 Big Bellys were scattered around Times Square, replacing 53 standard trash cans.

Trash Overflow

Trash Overflow

Tested in other American and European cities, the system promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent through a combination of compacting trash (each bin can hold five times the amount of trash than the standard bin), reducing pick-ups and increasing recycling. The quantity of material in each bin can also be remotely monitored.

Rumor has it, there are some Big Bellys in Union Square. If they’ve made it to your New York neighborhood, let us know and we can help spread the word. For more information on the organization behind Big Belly go to

About the Author: Mike is Chief of the R2 Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Branch in Public Affairs. He is a nine-year veteran of EPA and travels thru the World Trade Center station as part of daily his commute.

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