Southampton Town Board Poised To Install Solar Garbage Compactors At Long Beach

Southampton Town officials are trying a new method of addressing litter at Long Beach. KITTY MERRILL

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he understands that people may be short of funds and don’t want to pay to take their trash to the recycling center. But dumping at area beaches has become a problem.

Large kitchen bags overflow cans and debris blows across the sand. Long Beach in Noyac has been particularly targeted by household and even commercial garbage dumpers.
“What’s happening,” the supervisor said, “is residential household garbage is being shoved into the containers.”

Overflowing cans entice dogs, seagulls, and raccoons, which then spread the garbage around the sand.

“Then the wind scatters the litter even further and you have an ugly situation,” Mr. Schneiderman pointed out.

The Southampton Town Board and Parks Department have been brainstorming ways to deter and reduce the illegal dumping, and this week, Mr. Schneiderman and Councilman John Bouvier co-sponsored a measure to purchase six “Big Belly” solar-powered waste compactors to place at Long Beach. They’ll cost $35,000 altogether, with three units designed for trash and three units just for recyclables.

The units have openings similar to a postal service mailbox, meaning only so much trash can go into the compactor at once, the supervisor explained. The mouth of the unit is called a hopper. Other receptacles will be removed from the beach.

Equipped with sensors that monitor and report fullness levels, the Big Belly receptacles can hold up to 150 gallons of garbage. They harvest solar energy to compact waste and communicate their real-time status, with up to a 5-to-1 compaction ratio, and have a “skip-a-cycle” energy management technology that allows them to work even when there’s shade or cloud cover. They’re self powered and require no wiring.

In addition to removing the classic cans and installing the Big Bellies, the town is placing the beach under camera surveillance. “And we will prosecute,” Mr. Schneiderman vowed.

Last summer, the Town Board adopted legislation that prohibits commercial and household trash from being placed in public containers. Violations could carry a fine of up to $5,000 and/or 30 days in jail. Anyone who provides information about a dumper that leads to a conviction could receive 50 percent of the fine or up to $1,000.

“These solar-powered compacting receptacles help solve the problem by sealing off the garbage from wildlife and they are designed to make it difficult for someone to dispose of large bags of household trash. With the added video surveillance we should see a dramatic decrease in the amount of litter,” the supervisor concluded.