These cans are ubiquitous around campus. They’re produced by a company called Bigbelly, which is based in Needham, MA. Each receptacle contains a solar-powered compressor, which increases the amount of space available in each can (thereby reducing the number of collections necessary.) A sensor inside the can monitors how full it is, and alerts sanitation services when a pickup is necessary. Bigbelly has the potential to be a major disruptor in this field, as the optimization of trash collection reduces the number of employees needed to do it. According to an HBS case about the company, Bigbelly has shifted towards a subscription-based model, pitching its receptacles as Wifi hotspots, billboards, and air-purity monitors.
Despite everything that’s admirable about Bigbelly, I see a major design flaw. I hate touching the handle in order to deposit my trash. I think that the design could be significantly improved if the cans were opened via foot pedal instead.