2014-09-04 / Opinion


'BigBelly' Trash Collection

They are called “BigBelly” solar trash and recycling receptacles. And right after Labor Day, the second round comprised of 30 trash and 15 recycling units began landing on busy downtown Newport sidewalks.

Meanwhile, older—but, we say, still reliable—city trash receptacles are slowly disappearing from Newport sidewalks.

We were surprised back in April when the City Council voted 5-1 to approve these “BigBellies,” along with new 65-gallon trash and recycling “home carts” that residents of the city’s 10,100 dwelling units will see delivered to their doors next month for use beginning Nov. 3.

Quite simply, why fix a system that did not seem to be broken in the first place?

We have not yet shed our skepticism.

These solar marvels, already in use since earlier this year in some parts of Newport, are said to be capable of helping to save the city $250,000 a year because they can hold four-to-five times more material than the older receptacles they will replace. And that, we are told, will enable trash and recycled material to be picked up far less frequently by Waste Management Inc., thereby reducing costs and reducing the city tonnage at the Johnston landfill.

Although having to grasp sometimes dirty handles is not as simple as throwing refuse into open containers, Newport officials seem convinced that solar receptacles and gigantic residential barrels will work out fine.

But we wondered in April, and still do, how a frail older couple will wrestle one or both of their monster barrels to the curbside. The city says that a limited supply of smaller receptacles will be available to rectify those kinds of problems.

But will there be enough of these smaller barrels to ensure that our older residents do not injure themselves?

We hope so. But only time will tell.

Newport officials may argue that this new system will replace an old system that employed various trash and recycling barrels and bins in various stages of disrepair that left city streets in disarray each trash collection day and sometimes for days thereafter.

That may be so. But it hasn’t seemed to be something that bothered many people.

We still wonder why a system that seemed to be working just fine had to be scrapped and replaced by a new system that cost the city $959,000.

Of course, we hope the expense and inconvenience turn out to be worth it. Like everyone else, we prefer happy endings.

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