Over the last few months, I’ve developed a habit of taking pictures of Big Bellies in sorry shape.
Philly has quite the love/hate relationship with them, but the bottom line is that they do a better job of collecting waste than wire baskets ever could.
The Big Belly compactors absolutely cut down on trucks on the road, bags used, and labor time…that is, if the program is being managed correctly.
According to this 2013 Syracuse article featuring Alan Butkovitz, that’s exactly the problem, and he’s still complaining about it nearly three years later in this CBS article, too.
He has a point- if they’re not being consistently maintained according to plan, you’ll get overflowing units everywhere. If they’re being pulled too soon, that’s not optimal either.
I tend to side with Carlton Williams at this point- maybe Butkovitz’s concerns were legit in 2013, but hopefully they’ve been corrected since then? I guess that’s the question.
Williams says they’re still saving the city $650,000 a year, which does sound like a low figure. That all depends on what the calculation is based on- I would imagine it includes reduced labor, fuel, materials and recyclable material value.
The wireless network issue mentioned in the article is a real disappointment- this would definitely lead to missed service resembling my pictures at the top.
At that point, however, you’d just have to guesstimate how often to make your runs and you’re potentially losing the benefits of the system.
The old Philly units actually favor contaminating the recycling due to the receptacle being an open void- no compaction, no grimy handle to worry about.
I have quite a bit of experience with auditing collected materials from the newer units, and the compliance due to making both receptacles designed the same is near-perfect.
In today’s lousy recyclables market, the potential reduced contamination can only help the city generate quality material and hopefully increase rebates.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the recent CBS article is the free maintenance/free of charge upgrade in exchange for free reign of advertising on them.
I really like the city units that have the mural art designs on them- it’ll be interesting to watch what Big Belly ends up doing with the ad space…Coca Cola and some lame PA oil/gas propaganda?
I hope the ads won’t be on the front side, at least… the city needs that space to specify what goes in each.
Whether you like them or not, they are the best way to collect waste in a public setting.
I’m happy that the city is upgrading the units and you should be, too.