Trash Collection Aided by the Sun

Solar compactors shrinking Fort Worth's carbon footprint

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    The sun is helping to keep the streets clean in Fort Worth these days.

    A pilot program to make trash collection more environmentally friendly has been turned into a permanent program.

    The effort to fight litter is a daily battle. Traditional trash cans can be found on nearly every street corner, but recently there have been some new additions downtown: solar trash compactors, which hold more trash and also tell crews when they need to be emptied.

    "The old-school way was, the contractor would have to go around and touch every can, every day or every week, whether it was empty or not," said Brandon Bennett, Code Compliance director.

    The Sun Helps Keep Fort Worth Streets Clean

    [DFW] The Sun Helps Keep Fort Worth Streets Clean
    A pilot program to make trash collection more environmentally friendly relies on the solar trash compactors.

    Now a cell signal notifies the city's contractor when a can is half-full and completely full.

    The program was such a success that it has expanded to along a section of East Lancaster Avenue, some city parks and around Sundance Square.

    Each compactor costs at least $3,000, and the city says it is well worth it.

    "It's a little bit more on the front side, but it's a lot less down the road, so it's a return on the investment that is very good for the city, your tax dollars and the community," Bennett said.

    The use of solar power to run the compactor, which reduces the number of trash pickups, has other advantages.

    "This is part of our overall concept to reduce our carbon footprint -- reducing the number of trucks on the road, the wear and tear on the road," Bennett said. "It's just going to have tremendous long-term benefits for the city."

    Eventually, the compactors will be put in places like the Stockyards, all city parks and be used as mobile units for big events.

    Officials say the compactors also prevent people from pulling trash out and birds from feeding around the cans.