The New Army Green

U.S. Army installations around the world are seeing green with its NetZero goals. NetZero has five components: reduction, repurpose, energy recovery and disposal, recycling, and composting. The idea is for each military installation to produce as much energy as it uses, including net zero water and waste.

BigBelly Solar, a Massachusetts company is helping the Army reach that goal.  The United States Army Soldier Systems Center, a military research complex and installation in Natick, MA purchased 12 BigBelly units for its 78-acre installation. The BigBelly is a smart waste receptacle with a solar powered trash compactor. These 50-gallon receptacles can hold 150 gallons of waste.

Solar panels continually charge the receptacle’s battery, which powers the compacter, sensors, and wireless communications for up to 3 days. The BigBelly sensors provide real-time data by satellite. The data is linked and can be monitored by a laptop computer, such as the CLEAN Management Console used at Natick.

Operators can monitor how often a unit is opened and compacted, which are used more frequently, when a container is near full, and when it needs pick up. The BigBelly not only reduces an organization’s carbon footprint, but also conserves time and effort by limiting collection to bins that actually need collection, avoiding emptying bins that are only partly full.

Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston have already joined the Army’s green revolution, with BigBelly helping them save money and better allocate resources. It is estimated that each BigBelly saves approximately $2,000 annually over collection of a traditional receptacle. “You save resources and time (and) dedicate your resources where they belong.” said Rich Valcourt, an environmental engineer at Natick.

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