Photo by Melissa Abel
Photo by Melissa Abel

Seung Kim did not notice anything particular about the garbage can he was sitting on during the Walk Out II, a protest against budget cuts held at the Quarry on April 30th. However, he was marveled by its complexity when it was brought to his attention.

“I saw the logo and I thought it was some sort of technological trash can and it looked very comfortable to sit down on,” said Kim, a second- year sociology major. He paused and suddenly said, “I kind of want to use it now.”

Kim was sitting on a Big Belly Solar trash receptacle, a technologically advanced and environmentally friendly waste compactor, located between the two ATMs and below the steps to the Student Union Assembly building.


Dave Wade, UCSC Recycling Coordinator, said that the university decided to trial the Big Belly at the Quarry Plaza because of the high pedestrian traffic the frequents the area. He said that previously, the other trash cans outside the Bay Tree Bookstore had to be emptied out frequently during the course of a day.

“You get a lot of bulky items—empty paper cups, paper bags, fast food wrappers,” Wade said. “People are not going to stick there hand in the trash can push it down.”

The Big Belly is not shy to push down trash and has internal sensors that tell it when it needs to compact,which is all powered by solar panels located on top of the trash can. Even though the Big Belly is labor saving it comes with a hefty price tag–it’s cost ranges from $4-6 thousand dollars.

Wade considers the compactor to be a successful addition to the Quarry plaza since he hasn’t heard any complaints from students. According to Wade, the compactor has caused some confusion at other campuses.

“The only problem that I have heard of anybody having with them is that they used them extensively at Boston and Harvard,” Wade said. “They put it in front of the library at Harvard and people thought it was the book return and were dropping books in it.”