Aberdeen City Council approves five-year contract for “smart” garbage cans

The city of Aberdeen agreed to a contract where the service attached will help make its downtown a bit cleaner with trash cans that should make the usual easy pickings much harder.

Basically, a seagull won’t be able to perch up top and grab whatever food it desires. Currently, that’s what happens. People also rummage inside the cans. And quite often, the cans wind up flipped upside down. Sometimes, the lids wind up tossed in the city’s streets where cars have to swerve to avoid them.

Stacie Barnum, director for Aberdeen’s Parks and Recreation Department, explained what Aberdeen will gain with its five-year contract with Bigbelly. The grand total for the eight trash cans and service fees is $46,919. The monthly cost for the 60 months of service is $736 per month for a total of $44,139. To reach the final cost, there is also a one-time delivery fee of $2,780.

But, if the new cans are as advertised, they should make downtown Aberdeen look nicer. That should make residents happier as trash was a top concern when the city surveyed its residents about citywide problems. 132 businesses reported concerns with garbage on the city’s streets and sidewalks.

“It will decrease trash overflow,” Barnum said. “Birds won’t be able to get into the cans. People won’t be able to get into the cans. It will significantly decrease the amount of trash that comes out of the downtown trash receptacles. This is a trial run of three different styles. Our hope is to continue to add more Bigbelly units in downtown on an annual basis.”

Grays Harbor Transit Authority (GHTA) already uses Bigbelly cans at the Aberdeen Transit Center. There are other Bigbelly cans throughout GHTA stations in other Grays Harbor cities as well — Hoquiam, Westport, Montesano and Elma, according to Greg Fountain, facilities manager for GHTA. Soon there will be more in Amanda Park, Ocean Shores and McCleary, “cooperative agreement with the city forthcoming,” Fountain said.

Fountain explained how the cans help GHTA

“The idea behind employing these solar-powered, compacting trash cans is to reduce the number of trips to the far ends of the county that we serve, including Amanda Park, Westport and East County,” Fountain said. “Reduced trips save on fuel costs, reduce our carbon footprint to some degree and provide an attractive trash collection service for our customers. The small aperture of the trash cans also reduces the frequency of larger, hard-to-handle items that sometimes find their way into our trash receptacles, which can pose an injury risk to our service workers.”

Fountain championed the addition of wireless technology for the cans GHTA uses, which makes for better usability.

“The models we chose come with a five-year subscription to the ‘Clean Dashboard’ website provided by Bigbelly that reports — via LTE Cellular — when the cans are full, as well as any trouble issues,” Fountain said.


“Bigbelly creates clean and beautiful public spaces,” their brochure states. “No overflowing bins, no visible waste, no windblown litter and no access for unwanted pests.”

According to the company, its “smart, CLEAN-connected bins eliminate overflows and let you know when and where to collect.”

The city is going to get three “2 Sense Max” single station with foot pedal and bar-style lift bins, three “Sense” single with chute and foot pedal and bar-style lift bins, and two “Element” single station with chute and foot pedal and bar-style lift bins. Here are the specifications of those bins, according to the brochure:

2 Sense Max — 150-gallon capacity, fully enclosed, fullness indicator, compactor, solar-powered

Sense — 50-gallon capacity, fully enclosed, fullness indicator, battery-powered

Element — 50-gallon capacity, fully enclosed

Trash collection

LeMay Grays Harbor, who empties “all downtown trash,” will include the emptying of the new cans, according to Barnum.

“We met with LeMay before we ordered the Bigbelly units to make sure they would work with their trucks,” Barnum said. “LeMay approved the set up.”

The city plans to install the trash cans on the main arterial streets, according to Barnum.

“(We’ll) focus on the areas of Broadway Street and adjacent to Wishkah and Heron,” Barnum said.

Barnum continued on whether there are specific locations in mind.

“Exact locations have not been determined but the focus will be the Broadway Street area because that’s where most of the pedestrian activity is located and also where most of the downtown special events — Founders Day, Summerfest, etc. — are located,” Barnum said.

The contract, which the city council approved, hasn’t been executed yet. But once it is, it’ll take “six to eight weeks” for delivery and installation. Barnum said “in April sometime.”

City council comment

Stan Sidor offered more on the addition of the Bigbelly bins.

“We’re gonna have eight cans that have special, secure lids and disposal things, you wouldn’t be able to open them up and pull garbage out, that’s a big thing, the trash can go in but the trash can’t come out, hopefully that will help the problem,” Sidor said.

Sidor also offered his opinion on how much the bins will help.

“I doubt you’re gonna cure litter 100%,” Sidor said. “There’s always going to be somebody who’s gonna throw something on the ground or in the back of an alley, or whatever, rather than putting it in the trash can. But hopefully, if there is a trash can available, somebody’s gonna use it rather than throwing stuff on the ground. So, we’ll see.”

Aberdeen Mayor Doug Orr also provided his thoughts on the cans and how much they’ll help Aberdeen, given the long-time concern residents have had about seeing waste throughout the city.

“I think they’ll be great because you won’t be able to take trash out of them,” Orr said. “Folks looking for cans or whatever, they will take all the trash out and just leave it there when they’re looking for cans or recyclables. So this is a kind of a good idea to stop that.”

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at matthew.wells@thedailyworld.com.