Cymbrowitz Considering Self-Compacting Garbage Cans For Emmons Avenue

Aside from illegal dumping, there’s another culprit in the curious case of Sheepshead Bay’s garbage-strewn streets: overflowing trash bins. With reduced pickup service from the Department of Sanitation, the public garbage cans seen on street corners quickly overfill, with wind blowing litter to-and-fro.

But Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz is seeking a high-tech solution to the problem: automatic solar powered compacting garbage and recycling cans for Emmons Avenue.

The cans are able to pack in about five times the normal amount of waste as a regular trash can, powered by the sun’s rays. When finally full, the Big Belly sends a text message back to officials. The end result is a savings in labor, fuel and maintenance for the Sanitation Department.

Unfortunately, these Garbage Cans 2.0 can’t yet be added along the length of Sheepshead Bay Road, where most of the bins are known to overflow within just a day or two of being emptied. According to Cymbrowitz’s office, they’re hoping to tack it on to an ongoing beautification project along Emmons Avenue as a pilot program, and it can’t be expanded beyond that project’s scope.

The Emmons beautification project is now in its second phase. The first phase began in 2001, adding decorative sidewalks, new utility vaults and benches along Emmons Avenue from Driscoll Tucker Park to Ocean Avenue. The second phase kicked off in 2008, with funding from the assemblyman, to improve the look and safety between Sheepshead Bay Road and Holocaust Park, and will include new sitting area, covered garbage cans, sidewalk repairs, removal of the rusting electrical box by the footbridge, and railing repairs. Currently working its way through the Parks Department, contractor bids are expected this summer with construction to begin next spring. Cymbrowitz is prodding the agency to include the new Big Belly trash cans for both general garbage and recycling.

Big Belly trash cans were first seen in Brooklyn in the Chambers Street area in 2005. Earlier this year, they began popping up in Park Slope as well.

According to the Department of Sanitation, though, the initiative is both confusing for city dwellers and, at approximately $4,500 each, they’re costly for the city.

“[The machines] are very cost prohibitive, one compactor costs thousands of dollars while a DSNY wire basket costs around $125,” a department spokesperson told Courier-Life. “The compactor couldn’t handle certain types of litter like umbrellas and people weren’t sure what to make of them. Some even thought it was a mailbox.”

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