City of Orlando installs smart and expensive recycling compactors

Philadelphia controller says cans not worth the money

The City Beautiful is rolling out what's been deemed the latest and greatest in recyclable and trash collection. 

They're called Big Belly garbage compactors and they're part of Orlando's Green Works Orlando initiative. 

"We're striving to become a zero-waste community," said Orlando's Director of Sustainability Chris Castro.

News 6 found that Big Bellies also cost a lot of green. The lease for each Big Belly, including the software behind it, is about $2,200 a year. That's almost as much as the $2,500 it costs to outright buy a standard dual recycle/garbage container, and the standard trash can has a life expectancy of 10 years.

"Oh my goodness. It seems like they could put that money to better use," said resident Dejean Brock, who never used a Big Belly before. 

But Orlando city officials said the Big Bellies are in a three-year pilot program to see if they're cost-effective. The entire pilot program costs about $46,000. 

"If we can save that money, we can more than offset the cost for these bins every month," Castro said. 

Over time, city officials think the bins will save money. The Big Bellies are solar-powered and come with compactors inside, giving them the ability to hold five times as much as traditional trash cans. Plus, the Big Bellies also have sensors that alert workers when they're full so workers only have to empty them when they get to that point.

"We can minimize how often we collect these bins, therefore, saving money in human labor as well as our trucks and our fuel that go around to collect this waste," Castro added.

Some other cities have Big Belly containers and find they do save money, similar to Melbourne, Australia. But in Philadelphia, the city's controller announced in June that he could not find the trash cans cost-effective.

Some cities also allow advertising on the trash cans, which can pay for the Big Belly's monthly lease. Orlando does not allow advertising on its trash cans in the downtown.