LCSN: BigBelly is a big hit for Earth Day

April 21, 2010.. Retrieved online: April 21, 2010, from Suzanne Michaels, Las Cruces Sun-News

The only recycling solar compactor in Las Cruces — “BigBelly” — was a big hit at its Earth Day debut at Young Park on Saturday. Young people especially were so fired up about the compactor taking and smashing recyclables, some of the kids were pulling recyclables out of the nearby trash cans and bringing them to BigBelly to watch the solar compactor quietly do its job. Wonderful!

It can be expensive to schedule and manage staff to empty trash or recycling bins, potentially several times a day. BigBelly, powered by the sun, can squash several loads of recyclables before it needs to be emptied, turning five staff trips into one. We are applying for grants to get more BigBellies for the Las Cruces area.

BigBelly’s next appearance will be at the NASA facility Thursday, again in honor of Earth Day, for a demonstration for The White Sands Test Facility Sustainability Initiative Team.

At the South Central Solid Waste Authority Earth Day booth, we answered lots of questions about glass. Why aren’t we recycling glass in the Southwest? Here’s the long and the short of it: glass is heavy, and therefore expensive to transport. It’s breakable, making it a safety issue for employees handling it. Broken and crushed glass does not mix well with the recycling plant machinery. Glass is made of silica (sand), and colored with various minerals and is fairly inexpensive to produce.

Having said that, it’s important to know everything constantly evolves in the recycling business. New options become available every day. The SCSWA is right now closely watching a pilot program in Albuquerque with a business called Growstone. It is crushing recycled glass, mixing it with a foaming agent, and creating “functional, innovative, and cost-effective horticultural and consumer products.”

As explained on their Web site (, Growstone’s Earth-friendly products range from green technology building materials to media for water filtration, soil enhancers for container gardeners, soil-less media amendments and hydroponic growing systems. If the Albuquerque project works well, you may see something similar in our area. So, please know it is not a thoughtless decision to not recycle glass right now, and we are looking at options.

Read the Las Cruces Sun-News article.

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