Baltimore Gets Smart About Garbage

Photos courtesy of Ecube Labs
Published On
Oct 15, 2018

Smart technology isn’t only about thermostats and meters. The ability of digital interfaces to increase energy efficiency in the most mundane ways has now reached the unlikely realm of public trash receptacles.

In September, the City of Baltimore announced it had received the first wave of 64 solar-powered, internet-connected trash compactors. The smart garbage cans, which are being placed on sidewalks in South Baltimore, send signals to sanitation workers in the city’s public works department when they need to be emptied.

According to the city, the cans have numerous advantages over traditional bins. Their enclosed construction confines litter better and helps deter rodents. The compacting component also minimizes waste, preventing overflow from littering the sidewalks.

The smart cans also support workload efficiency. Sensors in the can send data to the public works department’s Bureau of Solid Waste, letting the Bureau know when they are full and allowing supervisors to schedule pickups as needed.

Baltimore Smart Trash Can

Like most smart technology, the cans have a number of other cool features, which may or may not ever be used by the city. They can be customized with LED backlights, LCD panels, graphic wraps, and Wi-Fi routers.

According to Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., who is the director of the city’s Department of Public Works, with the bins the city can “help people do the right thing with trash.”

The first phase of the smart can project is a pilot that will allow the city to evaluate the best methods of deployment. Issues such as placement for maximum solar exposure, maintenance routes and service schedules will be evaluated.

The cans will be placed on Washington Boulevard, Ridgely’s Delight, Cherry Hill and Westport, and along Light, Charles, and Hanover streets in South Baltimore. A second phase of the project will bring smart cans to the city’s business district later this year. Some of the cans will also have a bin for recyclables.

The cans are made by Ecube Labs, a South Korean company that is making Baltimore its East Coast hub. Ecube won a competitive bid earlier this year.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at

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