RENO, NV - Downtown Reno's trash cans are getting an upgrade, a greener, more high-tech approach.
The new units look more like a mail box than your standard garbage can.
And well, as far as any of us will ever see they operate pretty much the same.
But that panel of solar cells on the top is your first clue this just isn't a trash can. The blinking light is your second.
Inside is a commercial grade compactor. The solar panel powers the ram when the load reaches a certain level.
City officials say this high tech approach will help keep the city cleaner.
Well, the trash disappears inside. Out of sight and secure.
That's not always true with the traditional trash cans.
"We have both people rummaging through the trash cans as well as occasionally raccoons going in them and pulling the garbage out of them." says Jason Geddes, the city's Environmental Services Administrator. "We end up with a lot of wind blown litter down Virginia Street."
But keeping the trash in and people out is only one half of the equation.
The compactor holds about five times as much trash as the traditional can and, when full, sends a wi-fi signal that it's ready to be emptied.
No need to send the big truck until then.
It sounds environmentally responsible, but Geddes says, it also pencils out as a plus for the city.
"We get savings in the fact that we don't have to empty them as often," says Geddes. "And we don't have to clean up as much garbage in the downtown area."
And, he says, the units cost just about the same as those custom made downtown beautification barrels which will eventually disappear as the city adds more of the solar powered units.
There are 25 of the new units now in the downtown area.