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How the sun is going to change up the way Western recycles

By the end of November, solar-powered compacting bins for recycling and compost will be added to Red Square.

The bins, made by Bigbelly Solar Inc., use energy from solar panels to sense how full they are, then slowly and quietly compact the waste inside. This allows them to hold up to five times more than traditional bins of the same size, said outdoor maintenance supervisor Gary Hodge in an email.

Tweet from the Sustainable Action Fund page, Nov. 6.
Tweet from the Sustainable Action Fund page, Nov. 6.

In addition, the bins can communicate on the cloud, allowing maintenance to see when they were last emptied and when they need to be tended to again.

The four sets of bins are part of a pilot project, said the Sustainable Action Fund’s outreach coordinator Kyle Wunderlin in an email.

If they perform well in Red Square over the next year, the university will consider building more of the stations.

“Our hope is, in time, to deploy them throughout campus,” Hodge said in an email.

The Western students responsible for the idea for the bins are Maddie Gavigan Martin, Jacob De Guzman, Kari Anna Clausen and Marika Weber, Hodge said in an email.

The project was awarded a grant from the Sustainable Action Fund in June 2015.

After the bins have been installed, waste sorting education events will be held in Red Square, Wunderlin said in an email.

For now, more information about the bins can be found at the Bigbelly website.

**Editors note: The original article incorrectly stated that these bins compact both waste and recycled material. It only compacts trash.

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