Montclair continues with solar trash compactors, but at lower cost
BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Montclair has renewed its contract with Bigbelly, the solar trash receptacle company that has installed and maintains 70 containers throughout town. This contract will come at a lower cost than the previous contract, said officials.
In 2017, 40 Bigbellys were installed on the streets of Montclair at a cost of $72,474.84. The township increased the number by another 30 in November 2017, and the cost increased to $121,106. The town made the move over concerns about hygiene, graffiti and illegal dumping related to the open trash cans.
The contract for the original 40 receptacles, at $5,701 per month for a period of three years, expired in December of 2019. The council approved the renewal on the 40 units with a 22 percent savings at $4,452 per month. The new contract also includes the upgrading of all 70 waste bin stations with hopper jam sensors and new side panels of the latest design, according to the resolution passed on Jan. 21.
According to the resolution, the amount of the contract is not to exceed $53,424 per year.
The motorized compactors for the solar-powered units reduce waste volumes, allowing for up to five times the capacity of traditional trash bins. The receptacles also have built-in cloud computing technology that sends out an alert when a bin needs to be emptied or maintained. Overflowing trash cans are no longer an issue in Montclair, said officials.
The bins, provided by the the Massachusetts-based company, are now located in the Bloomfield Avenue, South End, Upper Montclair and Walnut Street business districts and some parks.
With a capacity of 150 gallons, the bins have five times the capacity of conventional bins. The need for maintenance, bags and visits to empty them are reduced, saving the town about $15,000 a year in sanitation crew overtime. Fuel costs are also cut with a drop in visits to the bins, according to township officials.
They also keep the streets cleaner, as the bin notifies the Department of Community Services through built-in cloud computing technology that sends out an alert when a bin is 80 percent full. In Montclair, the Bigbellys take about five days to fill up on average, with the average trash collection five times a month.
In 2018, the town paid leasing costs of $68,307 for 40 bins, $43,797 for the 30 additional single waste cans and $8,166 for four double stations, while liner bag costs were $835, totaling $121,106 in expenditures.
Of the $72,474.84 paid in 2017, there was an installation fee of $3,852; $335 for 10 cases of bags for the compactor bins; and the annual service charge of $68,307.
Bigbelly announced last year that Montclair ranked as the most efficient user of the system worldwide in 2018, ahead of second-place Newham Council in London. The company’s global data analysis showed that Montclair had a 98 percent average efficiency rate.
Other New Jersey towns using Bigbelly include Maplewood, Kearny and Franklin.
Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville suggested that more bins be placed on Pine Street, Canterbury Park and elsewhere in the South End, while Second Ward Councilwoman Robin Schlager suggested that two placed in front of a bench in Watchung Plaza be moved to another location as they block the view.