Tag Archives: big belly

Better Big Bellies In Philly? Yes Please.

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 good news going forward is that Philadelphia is about add 275 brand new units with the foot pedal upgrade- this will definitely encourage more usage.

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.

Waste of the Week #15

It seems like every time I walk around in Northern Liberties, there’s a waste-related oddity that catches my eye.  I’d walk around there more often, but it sucks there.  I think it’s just because it reminds me of downtown West Chester, which was by far the worst place I’ve ever lived in my life.

Then again, I have to thank West Chester too. If it wasn’t for its godawful lameness, I wouldn’t have spent so much time studying trash and might have wasted my time partying like nearly everyone else instead.

I guess now it’s a good time to plug West Chester University’s Environmental Health program… loved it.  Dr. Sheehan, Dr. Shorten: thank you.

Anyway, this appears to be a normal waste receptacle… one side for trash (which doesn’t encompass much these days, does it?), the other for recycling.  Did the City get wire mesh cans that are split in half now?  Let’s take a look:

Doesn’t look that way, does it?  Let’s see here… we ask the disposer to segregate their materials into either hole, but it goes into the same can anyway.  This is a great example of how to make the public uncertain of what happens to their waste.  “I don’t recycle anymore, it all gets trashed anyway.  What’s the point?  Waste of time.”

If you are employed in the field of waste handling, you know that this is pure hell.  Nothing is worse than developing a recycling program, only to have your coworkers hear the great things your department is doing and then see evidence pointing to the contrary, falsely or not.  In other words, teach others about what goes on internally behind the scenes…most people won’t care, but those who listen will appreciate it and reinforce the mission.

The situation above makes people feel powerless and indifferent…all zero people that opened the lid and looked in, that is.  I know I tend to feel that way from time to time.  If 100 people disposed of their plastic bottles into a can labeled recycling, and then whoever services the can trashes it, they just deceived 100 people.

However, if the contents of this can are sent to a material recovery facility, hopefully the material will stand a shot and get separated and sold back to manufacturers.

This can clearly suffers from the Big Belly dilemma, as I like to call it (I need to register that phrase on Urban Dictionary or something).  If you know what Big Belly compactors in action look like, then you know what I mean already.

There’s a cutout for the “Recyclables”, but no hole on the “Dechets/Trash” side.  No one (myself included) wants to grab the Big Belly handle to put waste in the trash compactor, but they’ll gladly put it into the open hole on the Recycling side.  Same applies here.

Any guesses where the waste is going that’s placed in this can?