Solar Trash Compactors in Parks

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I noticed these trash cans at Twin Ponds Park in Shoreline looked a bit different, so took a closer look. They are actually solar-powered trash compactors. One is for recycling and the other for garbage.

As the containers fill up a mechanism inside automatically crunches down the refuse, making it take up less space. The compactor is powered by solar cells in the top of the bins.

At first I thought the whole thing seemed silly, technology run amok where it’s not needed. (Like digital cook stoves. Knobs were much faster and easier!) But the City of Shoreline wisely provides information on the bins explaining why they are a good idea.

Because the trash is compacted the bins need emptying much less frequently. This is a boon in several ways. For one, it saves on personnel resources. Depending on how much a park is used, it can reduce the need for a human to empty trash a few times a week to only once or twice. This frees up park staff to take care of other much-needed tasks.

By eliminating some trips to empty trash less fuel is needed, reducing costs and green house emissions. And because the waste is compacted, hauling later is also reduced. Trucks can carry more in fewer trips, reducing costs, fuel consumption, and green house emissions.

The bins are also critter proof. Anyone who has watched a determined crow or squirrel knows they are cunning. A portion of litter at any park can be blamed on them, not slovenly humans.

I don’t know if these bins are a pilot project or if the bins are being gradually added to all the parks as the budget allows. This is the only Shoreline park I noticed them at so far. But on paper at least, it seems like a really good idea.

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