The town is getting high-tech when it comes to trash.
Wake Forest has installed eight Bigbelly trash and recycling bins around town that compact waste and email officials when they are full.
The new bins, which replaced 23 35-gallon regular trash and recycling containers, can hold four times the amount of garbage, said Mike Barton, the town’s public works and utilities director.
Bigbelly units use a solar-powered internal compactor that is triggered each time their doors are opened, Barton said. The hinged doors are designed to keep animals out and trash in on windy days.
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They communicate with town officials much like a smartphone would, sending notifications when they are full. Bigbelly software also collects data, including how fast the units fill up, which can help minimize the number of trips for work crews.
Since the cans were installed earlier this summer, they haven’t required emptying. That leaves a four-man utilities crew with more time to carry out other tasks, Barton said.
“Each crew was spending four hours each Friday and Monday emptying those trash cans,” he said.
Workers installed the new bins at seven locations, including South White Street downtown, Heritage High Park, E. Carroll Joyner Park and Flaherty Park.
The town is leasing the trash-and-recycling units for $185 per month and the trash units for $107 per month, said town spokesman Crabtree said.
Despite the cost, Barton said the change will save Wake Forest money because crews will make fewer trips.
“I’m looking at at least $10,000 of equipment and manpower right now, and that’s very conservative,” he said.
Barton hopes the savings will be used in the future to hire a crew dedicated to cleaning and emptying trash in parks and downtown.
In the coming months, additional receptacles will be placed strategically in more remote areas of town parks and greenways that take longer for crews to access, Crabtree said.
The cans were first suggested by Mayor Vivian Jones at a Board of Commissioners retreat in January.
Jones said she was pleased with the new cans, and noted that they’re already helping the town pinch pennies.
“They’re saving a lot of money,” she said.
Jones said the bins will be particularly useful during downtown events that keep crews busy. “It will be nice when we have events like Friday Night on White because those cans will hold a lot of trash.”
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi