Garbage Cans Energized by the Sun

Photo by Mary O’KEEFE Glendale Public Works installed the second set of solar-powered garbage cans on Honolulu Avenue on Wednesday.
Photo by Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale Public Works installed the second set of solar-powered garbage cans on Honolulu Avenue on Wednesday.


The Montrose shopping park area is known for its small town, Norman Rockwell-type charm. Honolulu Avenue weaves back and forth through the tree-lined streets, people actually wave and smile at each other. It is easy to think this is a town that has stepped back in time if not, of course, for the solar garbage cans.

Those twin greenish brown receptacles that appeared a few weeks ago at the southeast corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard are solar-powered compacters with one side for garbage, the other a recycle bin. On Wednesday, one more set of solar receptacles were placed on the west side of Ocean View Boulevard just above the signal light.

City of Glendale Public Works representatives, Montrose Shopping Park Association President Ken Grayson, MSPA ambassador Steve Pierce and Integrated Waste administrator Mario Nunez met at Montrose to place the second set of solar bins.

Solar panels line the top of the receptacles and on the side of the bins reads, “Responding Today. Ready for Tomorrow.”

For Nunez, the phrase is the foundation of the city’s approach to an environmentally friendly and efficient way to deal with waste.

“The cans are a four-to-one [ratio],” he said, “meaning this one [receptacle] will hold up to four times what the other [non solar] cans hold.”
Photos by Mary Okeefe
The can also has lights and a monitor that indicates how much waste is in each container.

“If it reads one quarter full, we know we don’t have to empty it,” Nunez said.

That saves on manpower.

Although the Integrated Waste Department services the area every day, in the future these types of “smart” receptacles could save fuel costs because the workers will travel to the areas that need to be serviced precisely when it is necessary.

The garbage side of the containers, with its compacter, is impressive but the recycling side also holds its own with environmental responsibility.
Photos by Mary Okeefe
“This is the first recycling [program] to be introduced to the area,” Nunez said.

Each set of receptacles is about $4,000; the city initially purchased eight and has them placed throughout Glendale. In addition to the two that are in Montrose, there is one at the Metrolink, one at Glendale Community College and the other four along Brand Boulevard.

The money from the recycled items is about 36 cents per ton. The recycling is processed in Glendale, put in containers and exported to areas for processing. The funds raised through recycling are used to pay for street sweeping.  And 96% of what is swept up gets mixed with food and turned into compost that is used by California farmers.

Deciding what is needed and what can be done about garbage is a constant, never ending problem. Nunez said the makeup of Montrose is changing and therefore so is its need for waste control.

There are 32 regular waste cans placed in Montrose Shopping Park by the city. Each container holds 32 galloons and is emptied, on average, once a day.  That is 1,023 gallons of garbage/waste on a normal day. That amount increases during events like Sunday’s Harvest Marketplace and other events.

Grayson said the overflowing garbage cans are something that the shopping park does not like to see and wanted to come up with a solution. He liked the new solar bins and that the city came out to move trashcans to where they can be more useful and adding cans that are needed.

“We want to be clean, safe and orderly,” Grayson said.

He said having recycling and the solar compactors is a step in the right direction.

“This builds positive energy,” he added.

Pierce proposed the option for more solar bins after the first were placed in Montrose. He contacted the city and asked if they had any bins left.

“This is the last one available,” Pierce said.
Photos by Mary Okeefe
Now the task turns to the community to use the bins for both waste and recycle materials.

“I think they will once people get used to seeing them,” Grayson said.