Shining the light on trash

LIHUE — It sure is fancy for trash.

Kukui Grove Center installed a combination recycle and trash solar-powered system Wednesday in the food court area fronting the Starbucks Coffee and Jamba Juice  — making the shopping center the first in Hawaii to make the transition to such high-tech waste reducing bins.

The installation of the BigBelly solar-powered waste and recycling compacting bins is part of the shopping center’s commitment to improve sustainability.

“Kukui Grove Center is committed to creating long-term value by improving our natural resource efficiency, and operating and developing the center in a sustainable and environmentally sound manner,” said Wade Lord, Kukui Grove general manager, in a release. “Not only will the bins encourage recycling, but by compacting the trash, we use less trash bags and less room in the landfill, reducing Kukui Grove’s carbon footprint.”

Stacie Chiba-Miguel, Kukui Grove assistant real estate manager, said the unit is connected to a terminal in her office and allows her to monitor not only when the bins are full, but patterns of use and other data, which will lead to reduction of expense in trash maintenance.

She said there is a school on Oahu which has been using this successfully for the past nine years.

“This is not just a garbage can,” she said. “It’s a waste management system.”

The BigBelly solar-powered compacting waste and single stream recycling bins hold five times more than conventional bins, are more sanitary and require fewer pickups.

The bins utilize solar panels to power a motor which automatically compacts contents leading to the need for fewer bags and pickups. An electronic sensor within the locked machine wirelessly alerts staff when the bin is full. Consumers are notified of the bin’s status via the red-yellow-green light system mounted on the bin’s front.

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School student Navaeh Cabebe-Yamamoto called the bin fancy after learning about the trash can she had just deposited rubbish in Wednesday at the Kukui Grove Center.

“Right now, we’ve just got the one system installed in front of the Starbucks and Jamba court,” Chiba-Miguel said. “We’ll monitor the use and if it proves out, we’ll be installing more units throughout the center.”

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