Eat up: 'big bellies' are good for environment
The new big belly solar compactors are one of the ways the Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem, Ga. communities are going green. The waste bin compacts trash allowing more trash to be condensed into a smaller area.

FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. -- Unlike many people watching their weight, the environmental agency on Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem are opting for "big bellies."

To help reduce trash heading to landfills, the Fort Gillem Environmental Office staff is placing the big belly solar trash cans on Fort McPherson, said Fred Jordan, environmental protection specialist, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Environmental Office.

The big belly trash can, designed by the Seahorse Power Company, is solar powered and may be environmentally safer and friendlier then normal trash cans. It has already been tested successfully in cities like Boston.

The can compresses waste inside the bin, said Owen Nuttall, chief of the BRAC Environmental Office. As trash accumulates, the sensors inside, powered by the solar panel on the top of the can, trigger, activating a compressor.

According to the big belly solar compactor Web site,, the can holds up to five times as much trash, up to 150 gallons, before it needs emptying. Once emptied, the waste is condensed into a 40-pound brick.

Besides cutting down the amount of waste in landfills, the can has secondary effects, Jordan said.
Other benefits of a can that can hold more waste include:

-- less manpower

-- reduced truck and fuel costs to the government to empty full cans

-- less greenhouse gas emissions

-- the need for fewer landfills

"We need to reduce the garbage we put on landfills, which strains the environment," he said.

The Environmental Office staff has installed three of the devices on Fort McPherson: one at Early Park, one at the pavilion behind Bldg. 200 and one at the Mini-Mall.

"We hope the cans catch on and help reduce the amount of trash created by the community," Nuttall said.

In the south there are a lot of landfills, so people aren't used to working toward recycling and reducing waste, Nuttall added. To help encourage recycling, the big belly trash can has a recycling bin attached to it.

" You have to make it easy," Nuttall said of changing people's attitudes toward caring for the environment. "We try to make it as easy as possible."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16