BigBelly Solar- trash management

BigBelly Solar- Smart Trash Management Organizations still have a long way to go to to fully integrate the social web to connect to their customers. Here are some great examples, curated by Hult International Business School and Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center). Their book Connectivate! is a collection real world stories from 54 innovative companies whose breakthroughs are changing the world.

By leveraging today’s confluence of technological and analytical breakthroughs, these companies connect people, businesses, governments and entities in novel and meaningful ways, capturing win-win propositions on the value chain. These companies have created a new economic context, increasingly accessible in a space-time singularity called  Always Available.

Real world stories about innovators and innovative companies are an important way to learn, and we place high value on them at Innovation Excellence. The next case study in our Connectivate! series is:

BIGBELLY SOLAR- trash management


Eliminate the waste in waste management by only emptying trash cans that are full


Municipalities, park systems, colleges and universities, and corporate and government campuses who want to reduce the cost of a mandatory but expensive and time-consuming service — waste disposal and recycling.


BigBelly Solar created a smart network of waste & recycling stations made up of BigBelly compactors and/or SmartBelly components that send out text messages about their status through the mobile network to a web-based software system.

By connecting individual bins to garbage collectors, BigBelly Solar empowers customers to use collection and capacity data to reduce the use of gas and make their operations more efficient.


A system of garbage trucks typically collecting waste from around a specific area at regular intervals, but without data on garbage bin capacity creates large inefficiencies.

As a result, some garbage bins are overflowing thus polluting the environment, or do not contain much trash making it a wasted trip for the garbage collector.


BigBelly Solar has doubled sales in 2010 and increased staff by 30%. The company has deployed more than 10,000 waste & recycling stations for over 750 customers across the nation. As an example, the city of Philadelphia reduced garbage collection trips from 17 times a week to only five times a week generating a 70% savings in operating costs—$900,000 in the first year and $13 million over the next ten years.


Garbage collection is very inefficient — creating a network of “smart” garbage bins that let us know when they are full can reduce gas consumption and manpower that translates to savings for the customer and better service for the public.


  • Changing Lifestyles: As the number of people in cities increase, the amount of waste produced also grows making it difficult at times for the local government to collect all the trash.
  • Sustainability: There is a growing push towards more environmentally sustainable practices in all human activities including waste management — the collection, disposal or recycling of trash.


  • Convenience: BigBelly Solar’s system allows customers to simplify the management of waste collection by using cloud-based software that displays the whole network of trash and recycling bins which can then be monitored and controlled at any place at any time.
  • Customization: Customers can choose between BigBelly Solar’s offerings (solar-powered compactors vs. non-compactors, components for trash, recycling, compost, etc.) to suit their needs.


BigBelly Solar demonstrates the savings that customers get upon implementation, translating into a quick win that customers — typically local governments and higher education — can show, thus getting support and buy-in from the public.


  • Subscription: The company gets monthly revenues by using a subscription model for their smart grid waste management system,
  • Customized offering: BigBelly breaks down each piece of the modular system — network management console, command center and collection stations — into offerings from which customers can pick and choose based on their budget and needs.


  • Compactors are manufactured and assembled in Vermont and Kentucky, with 90% domestic-made materials.
  • The cloud-based waste management system is also built in-house.


A system of solar-powered receptacles that communicate with an electronic waste management system that monitors the component status and reports and analyzes on the best way to collect waste.


BigBelly Solar can install and maintain the waste and recycling stations for their customers.

The company also maintains and controls the waste management IT system.


Municipalities, park systems, colleges and universities, and corporate and government campuses who face pressure to reduce expenses and maintain a clean environment.


  • Distribution partners including Waste Management in the US, and in Europe: CSE Clean Solutions, Kyron Energy & Power, and Plastic Omnium, a strategic partner marketing the BigBelly system under the brand “Solar’ium”.
  • SolidWorks software helps in designing the BigBelly compactors and SmartBelly components.

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team-ixl-hitendra-patelteam_ixl_ronald_jonashSteve WyattConnectivate! Victor Fernandes Dr. Hitendra Patel,  Ronald JonashSteve Wyatt and Victor Fernandes are co-authors of  Connectivate! Companies Innovating in New Ways to be Always Available; and members of leadership and the team at IXL CENTER, the Center for Innovation, Excellence & Leadership at Hult International Business School.

Hitendra Patel and Ronald Jonash




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No Comments

  1. The Landfiller on November 25, 2012 at 5:15 am

    It is good to hear that waste collection cost problems are being tackled and that garbage issues are being given the high-tech treatment. This is a subject which seldom gets the atention it deserves, so it is good to read this article.

    Would you really think it was sensible to send a cab driver out to a fare when half of the time the fare did not need a lift?

    No! Of course not!

    This idea sounds like a winner to me.

    Thanks for this.

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