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Key Outcomes

  • Saved $110k per annum in labour costs 

  • Reduced the number of required bin collections by 70%

  • Reduced illegal dumping

  • Use of GPS and smart phone technologies to improve process

  • Increased community satisfaction

  • Reduced waste collections from 7 days a week to less than 3 days a week

  • Better utilisation of plant and equipment with a more defined garbage collection run emanating from GPS analysis

Problem Summary 

In 2011 Nambucca Shire Council began a review of services provided by the Town Services Gang. The review included options for the servicing of street and park litter bins located in town areas and cleaning of public toilets.

An initial high level review revealed the following key areas:

  • The garbage collection roster had been in place for 20 plus years 

  • For over 10 years there had been two utilities collecting waste and cleaning public amenities

  • Historically, information on these services had been provided by employees and may have been biased without consideration for improved quality of service, efficiencies and working conditions.

  • Council’s budget for Town Services was $469.1k and included cleaning 23 public toilets and servicing 170 waste bins of varying sizes.

  • Council are aware that some public amenities around the Shire are very old. One could walk into older amenities immediately after they had been cleaned and deduce that nothing had been done. Conversely, there was always a knee-jerk reaction to waste being dropped on the ground. As a reaction more bins were installed in an attempt to address complaints, however this did not solve the core issue. 

  • Council regularly survey the community on public amenities and street litter collection. Survey results have generally been rated as “high importance and low satisfaction”. Therefore, any reduction in either service would have received substantial critiscm from the community.

The Solar Bins Australia Solution

Solar Bins Australia worked with the Council's Assistant General Manager - Engineering Services who saw the BigBelly solar bin in use during an overseas study in Anaheim and Chicago. Experience gained from the overseas study sparked Council to investigate the feasibility of BigBelly solar bins within Nambucca Shire. 
The technology has a number of appealing features including being powered by 100% renewable energy. This is achieved through on board solar panels and battery storage. 

In addition, the BigBelly has an internal compactor allowing it to hold up to 5 time the waste of a standards bin. It incorporates level sensing and connectivity to the “Mapmybins” software platform. These features combined transform an inefficiency, costly waste collection system into a sophisticated network of smart bins allowing the operator to receive notification when action is required. 

Through a waste minimisation grant and Council working funds, Council purchased 15 BigBelly solar bins from Solar Bins Australia. The 15 solar bins where installed in various high profile areas throughout the Shire. 

Nambucca Shire Council was the first Local Government in NSW to trial the solar compactor bins and has since purchased an additional 14 units. The long-term goal is to remove all 240 litre standalone bins around the shire with a network of smart bins. 

Results so far have been very successful. Staff productivity has increase, other duties previously done outside of standard working hours can now be completed in a normal day.

The BigBelly solar compactor uses 100% renewable energy reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bins are enclosed so odours are now contained inside the unit. The community have reported improved odour control compared to open-air bins that were previously used in the main CBD area of Nambucca Heads.

Overflow of waste has also ceased proving a win for the local river eco system with waste no longer ending up in the drainage reticulation resulting in less pollution of the river.

Products used to construction the BigBelly are in accordance with environmental standards and take a whole life cycle approach for example;

  • The side panels and hopper cover are constructed from black ABS plastic which contains post-consumer recycled content of 80% to 100% and can itself be recycled.

  • Packaging - recycled cardboard and wooden pallets are used for transport which can be recycled.

  • Powder Coat Painting – Is an environmentally friendly way used to paint the units as it is nontoxic, has no fumes and virtually no VOC (volatile organic compounds).

  • RoHS Compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive)

  • BigBelly Solar products meet tough European standards. There is no lead used in the circuit boards and no chromium is used in the plating of the steel.

  • Recyclable lead acid batteries are used to store energy generated by the solar panels

  • The bins are leak proof

  • The introduction of the solar compactor bins is compliant with the direction of Council looking for sustainable infrastructure and in accordance with Councils Vision statement.

Additional Benefits 

Leading up to the installation there was continued illegal dumping of commercial and domestic waste in the Main Street at Nambucca Heads and Bellwood Park. This required a service to empty the bins seven days per week which has been reduced to 2.7 days per week. 

The Bigbelly incorporates electronic collection monitoring allowing council to better understand high use areas (for example outside take-away shops). Having access to this data allows for better complaint management. 

The solar powered bin automatically compacts rubbish at the point of disposal, decreasing the amount of space taken up by rubbish up to 80%. 

The new bins were coupled with garbage compactor technology where GPS tracks the route of trucks and provides a detailed breakdown of travel times. This data is then used to generate further savings by optimising the garbage collection run path, saving fuel and labour.

Council estimates indicate annual waste collection across the entire street litter service reduced by 18% between FY12 and FY14.  


Figure 2: Estimated annual waste collection by fiscal year


This represents a substantial reduction and has been attributed to:

  • A concerted effort to reduce illegal disposal of commercial and domestic waste

  • The impact of the BigBelly solar bins which has up to five times greater capacity, reducing collections by up to 70% and generating fuel, labour, maintenance and greenhouse gas savings.

If you would like to talk to Solar Bins Australia about your waste bin network, or think any of their solutions could help your business, send them an enquiry



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