n 2011, the University of Washington–Seattle was exploring alternative waste and recycling platforms for their campus, with Emily Newcomer, the University’s Recycling Program Manager, leading the initiative. Newcomer was seeking a solution that was easy to service, created less litter, saved staff time, and helped divert recycling and compostables. These criteria led them to BigBelly Solar.
Initially, Newcomer was more familiar with the BigBelly Solar compactor used in many of the surrounding communities. She was most attracted to the enclosed design because their existing outdoor litter containers were wide open, “which allowed birds and rodents to pull garbage and recycling out of the containers and spread it around campus.”
However, the non-compacting SmartBelly component and its ability to be customized for recycling and composting provided an opportunity to introduce public area composting to the campus community.
There were multiple campus departments beyond the recycling program involved in the conversation, including the grounds department, landscape architecture, food services and environmental health and safety. Newcomer pitched a pilot deployment of seven BigBelly+SmartBelly Triple Stations for waste, recycling and compostables, to replace 35 traditional bins in Red Square, a high-traffic area where many events are held and much food is consumed.
Initially, the stakeholders raised concerns about the color of the stations and how they didn’t blend well with the campus buildings. While there were some aesthetic concerns, Newcomer knew that if the success criteria were met, the campus would be hooked and there would be a strong argument to expand.