SANDPOINT — In the wake of a contract renewal with Waste Management, City Council members also approved the installation of smart garbage cans in the city’s downtown core and parks on Wednesday.

“This smart technology will enable us to better manage our solid waste across our facilities,” said City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton.

In working with business owners and others in the community, Stapleton said some of the complaints were included losing lids, lids that can’t be pulled open, overflowing garbage cans and more. A Waste Management representative at the meeting said they would check the cans downtown three times a week, and while some of them were overflowing, others were completely empty, which was not efficient.

Bigbelly Solar’s smart cans are solar powered, operating on a cloud-based monitoring system tells the city and Waste Management how full the cans are any given time.

“It’s not dependent upon city staff going around to the bins and checking those bins, calling for them to be picked up, or responding to complaints from the public that we have a full garbage can,” Stapleton said.

Bigbelly representative Erin Griffin said the smart cans are not new technology. Over the past 15 years, the company has installed smart cans in cities and towns across the country and the world.

In addition to the cloud connection, they are self-powered, have a 5-1 compaction ratio and hold 150 gallons as opposed to a standard 32-gallon bin, and are GPS enabled. The GPS helps the city keep track of the stations if one gets moved for any reason. Also, the stations can run for about three weeks without access to sun.

A total of 56 stations will be installed in the city’s downtown core and parks. It will include a mix of 43 compacting units, which hold 150 gallons, and 13 non-compacting units, which hold 50 gallons. All of the bins can be opened either by hand or foot, Griffin said.

“So people who have a bunch of things in their hands, or people who don’t want to touch the handles can use that foot pedal instead,” she said.

Griffin said Spokane implemented 108 stations about a year ago and have seen an 88-percent reduction in collections.

“Their main goal was to allow their public waste collection to do their collections rather than their clean team so they could reallocate that labor,” she said, adding that it is a similar model to what Sandpoint is trying to accomplish.

Council members voted in favor of the 60-month contract, which comes with a cost of $5,799.55 per month — $69,354.60 per year. Stapleton said a savings of approximately $20,000 per year for reduction of pickup costs will offset some of that amount. The transition will be funded by the city’s sanitation fund.

“We have a balance that we have been building up in our garbage fund, so its using that balance to pay for the transition to these cans,” Stapleton said.

Maintenance, installation, cleaning and annual inspections are included in the contract. The city will be responsible for any vandalism.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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