Modules, Connectivity

BigBelly Solar: Transforming Trash Collection Operations

BigBelly Solar is a leading global provider of innovative and sustainable solutions for waste and recycling management, with more than 800 customers in virtually every U.S. state and 30 countries.

The BigBelly Solar intelligent waste & recycling collection system combines a powerful management console, software-enabled network command center, and family of mix and match waste & recycling stations into a toolkit that enables municipalities, colleges & universities, government facilities, and other institutional customers to reduce the operating costs associated with waste collection by 80 percent. Recognized as a C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group best practice, BigBelly Solar is also enabling its customers to become visible leaders in environmentally sustainable practices by displacing fossil fuel usage through renewable energy, increasing recycling rates, reducing litter and associated public health concerns, and creating a messaging platform to engage users and influence more environmentally-conscious behaviors.

In 2011, BigBelly Solar committed to evolving the patented solar-powered trash compactor to become an enterprise system provider optimally managing public-space waste & recycling collection operations. To accomplish this goal, BigBelly had to develop new and expanded capabilities for each layer of the system by:

  • Adding a management console, accessible from any browser to provide customers with unprecedented visibility into their public-space waste & recycling collection operations.
  • Providing behind-the-scenes advancments such as a network command center to deliver software functionality to the waste & recycling stations, remote diagnostics, over-the-air software upgrades and preventive maintenance alerts.
  • Developing a substantially expanded family of waste & recycling stations to address a broad range of customer situations.

These waste & recycling stations are capable of sensing and reporting in real time a broad range of fullness and collection activity information. To launch this next-generation intelligent waste & recycling collection system, BigBelly needed to incorporate robust, reliable and cost-effective IoT capability.

Why Telit?

Having already invented and patented the world’s first solar-powered trash compactor, BigBelly had a device that replaced ordinary sidewalk trash receptacles with a self-powered, self-aware robot that compacts waste as needed to increase capacity and thereby reduce the demand for expensive and time-consuming collection trips. The “BigBelly” solar compactors, and the new “SmartBelly” non-compacting receptacles, sense fullness and collection activity, gathering information that provides unprecedented insight and control over collection operations. But to get that information to customers and integrate these solar compactors into a “smart grid” network, the company needed among other components a high-quality modem to install in the BigBelly and SmartBelly components.

After extensive research and testing, BigBelly chose Telit for three reasons:

  • Telit provided appropriate form factor in terms of size and shape for our products
  • Telit is known for their quality customer support.
  • Telit was ahead of the competition in IoT applications, giving BigBelly an advantage.

Although it was not the least expensive option, we selected Telit’s solution to gain these advantages, and the modems have been working very well in the field.


The launch of BigBelly’s next-generation intelligent waste & recycling collection system, the “Smart Grid for Waste & Recycling TM,” has been a great success for BigBelly and their customers. The BigBelly Solar system sets the company apart with a unique worldwide solution, and their customers are able to deliver an essential service at a dramatically lower cost. Combined with powerful historical analysis and reporting, the insights delivered through theIoT system provide transparency and control to customers who previously had to assign peak resources at all times given the absence of data to support more targeted resourcing decisions. The new visualization tools and reporting capabilities provide value-rich insights for more efficient management of operations, better activity tracking and enhanced auditing of results.

That visibility across the entire operation is also attractive at the executive level, which is under increasing pressure to justify investments and provide measurable and verifiable results to their stakeholders.

Data-driven insights, on-site compaction and a full range of zero waste recycling options – all powered by solar energy and utilizing advanced information technology – are a powerful combination. In times where customers of all types face difficult budget pressures, the ability to reduce collections while improving service levels is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. BigBelly Solar is helping customers remove 7-8 out of every 10 trash vehicle trips from the streets, reducing the carbon footprint and fuel cost drain for vehicles that typically average less than 3 MPG.

The BigBelly Solar intelligent waste & recycling collection system is a true asset for cities, universities, park systems, and corporate leadership looking to dramatically reduce their environmental impact while simultaneously achieving substantial budgetary savings.

Let us know if you are interested in working on a customer case study.