Hot idea: Solar-powered trash crushers

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Mayor Nutter (right) and Councilman Frank DiCiccocut the ribbon on a new solar- powered trash bin at thecorner of 15th Street and JFK Boulevard.

Look out! The Big Bellies are here to eat your trash.

The city yesterday unveiled one of the new solar-powered trash compactors that they plan to install throughout Center City in the next several months.

Dubbed "Big Bellies," after the company that manufactures them, the cans compact trash using solar power. The city plans to replace 700 wire trash baskets with 500 solar litter compactors between now and July.

Philly is also poised to start offering pedestrian recycling for the first time. Recycling cans will be placed next to 210 of the compactors.

Mayor Nutter yesterday appeared next to a new solar trash can and a recycling can installed at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

"This is all part of that larger effort to clean Philadelphia up, get people to recycle more," Nutter said.

The compactors require fewer collections, which saves the city on fuel for sanitation vehicles and frees up workers for other tasks, officials said.

They also hold up to 200 gallons of trash, compared with the 55-gallon capacity of a regular wire trash basket.

Because of that capacity they require five weekly collections, compared with the 19 for a regular trash basket. That means only eight workers will be assigned to collect litter baskets, compared with the current 33, said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson.

The $2.2 million cost of the trash and recycling cans will be covered by a state grant, said Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler.

After these solar compactors are installed, the city will still have 1,250 wire litter baskets throughout Philly's neighborhoods. But Tolson said the baskets outside Center City are not as heavily used. The compactors will be installed between Spring Garden and South streets, from the Schuylkill to the Delaware River. *

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