The City of Philadelphia faced the age-old challenge of keeping busy commercial corridors clean and litter free. The bins filled with trash and recyclable materials alike across all public spaces since no dedicated recycling bins existed. Bigbelly was implemented in order to keep streets cleaner and reduce their collections. The City installed their first 500 solar-powered compacting units in the city center, the highest volume areas, and introduced on-street recycling at over 200 of the smart bin locations. Today 1,300+ smart Bigbelly waste and recycling units are across the city limits.
Success of this program was measured in the average weekly collection reduction of 82% from 17x to 3x with one shift instead of three. The city embraced the smart transformation of waste operations. Public spaces are noticeably cleaner as a result of Bigbelly, the streets are calmer too - reduced collection requirements mean fewer trash trucks congestion and using less fuel. Philadelphia quickly became the national leader in adopting citywide smart waste and recycling, and continues to reap the benefits nearly a decade after original installation.
"They’ve been extremely successful. We were able to reduce the amount of collections from 17 times per week to just 3 times per week to service."
- Carlton Williams, Streets Commissioner, City of Philadelphia
CHALLENGES & MOTIVATIONS
The millions of residents, professionals, and tourists passing through the city center on a daily basis generated enough waste that traditional wire baskets would fill up quickly and consistently overflowed. Litter escaped baskets and onto the streets, creating an eyesore for the community and a hassle for collection crews. The Sanitation team collected wire baskets 17x per week over three collection shifts (over 1.5 million collections per year) with a hefty operating cost. The city realized the need for increased capacity, waste containment, and sustainable solution
The City installed its first 500 Bigbelly units throughout the city center in 2009 to replace 700 wire baskets. It also enabled the Sanitation department to implement on-street recycling program for the first time in Philadelphia with about 200 Bigbelly units coupled with a recycling component. The smart system allowed for the large volumes of waste to be captured and contained, then signaled collection readiness to crews.
After measurable success with the initial deployment, the city expanded its footprint in 2011 and 2013 beyond the city center with hundreds of additional Bigbelly waste and recycling units on street corners and main corridors of surrounding neighborhoods. Most recently, the city is Expanding and upgrading their fleet with 275 media-funded units that provide ad revenue back to the city. Today’s deployment has with over 1,300 units deployed across city limits. Over the past decade, the city’s deployment has evolved with Bigbelly’s product offering (such as adding foot pedals and upgrading stations) while the city has transformed their core city service level for public space waste.
"That [Bigbelly] data is invaluable to us as it allows me to save on man hours, fuel costs and equipment. This is just an amazing thing to see. It’s so much better. So much better."
- Keith Warren, Chief of Operations, City of Philadelphia
Philadelphia quickly became the national leader in adopting smart waste and recycling. They embraced smart city entry point to modernize waste management before ‘Smart City’ was a widely embraced concept. As one of the first cities to deploy a smart waste management solution at scale city-wide, the City continues to reap great operational, environmental, and quality of life benefits for their community.
The Streets Department’s Sanitation reduced collections from an average of 17x to 3x per week, using only one crew shift per day instead of three. These saved resources were redeployed to tackle other Sanitation issues, such as vacancies on residential recycling collection routes.
The program allows the city to save money from reduced collection costs and fuel use - a 70% operating cost savings. The first year’s collection costs were reduced by over $800,000 in the city center. Since that deployment, Philadelphia has reported a $650,000 annual savings.
The city’s public spaces are noticeably cleaner as a result of Bigbelly, the streets are noticeably calmer too - reduced collection requirements mean fewer trash trucks congestion and using less fuel. The city reported savings of 30,500 gallons of fuel and 335 tons of CO2 savings in the first year. The single stream units allow pedestrians to recycle on the go and conserve costs and landfill contribution. Philadelphia has significantly reduced its collection-related vehicle fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
As the capital of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is home to a population of 1.5 million. The area's many universities and colleges have helped the City evolve into an educational and economic hub. Known for its arts, culture, and rich history, Philadelphia attracts over 41 million domestic tourists annually.