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Eco-friendly trash compactors coming to Muskegon’s Pere Marquette beach

MUSKEGON, MI – More than a dozen mini trash compactors, some that also will take recyclables, are coming to Muskegon’s Pere Marquette beach.

The 14 compactors will replace many of the traditional trash barrels at the city park out of which wind can whip refuse at times.

The city will enter a three-year lease for the compactors, though it can get out of it if the compactors don’t live up to expectations, Muskegon Deputy Public Works Director Dan VanderHeide told the city commission Monday, Nov. 7.

The three-year $54,589 cost will be covered by beach parking revenue.

“I love this idea,” said Commissioner Theresa Emory. “I hope it works out for us.”

The compactors, provided by Connect by BigBelly, can have a customized wrap featuring, for example, nature photographs or messaging. The city could choose to use the space for branding or advertising, but that’s something staff will proceed with “carefully, if at all,” commissioners were told in a written background about the compactors.

“The goal of the effort is … to provide aesthetics at the beach to provide a better-looking, more pleasing product at Pere Marquette that reflects the natural beauty around it,” VanderHeide said. “Something that is a little nicer than our typical trash barrel.”

The cost of the 50-gallon compactors is twice that of traditional trash receptacles, but the city can recoup that through reduced staff time needed to empty them and pick up trash that has blown on the beach, commissioners were told.

Two of the units will have a separate space for recyclables. The recyclable units are considered a “pilot project,” the future of which will depend on how well users comply with proper recycling and how much staff time is needed to properly sort and dispose of recyclables, VanderHeide said.

Each solar-powered compactor can connect to the Internet and alert staff when it needs emptying. Users can access them with a handle or a foot pedal.

If feasible, the city may transfer the units to downtown Muskegon during the beach off-season, VanderHeide said.

While the manufacturer insists the units hold up well to sand, staff are taking a wait-and-see approach, he said.

If the compactors measure up, the city has the option to extend the lease or even purchase them, commissioners were told.

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