The city of Delaware hopes a new solar-powered trash compactor leads to future savings.

The city of Delaware hopes a new solar-powered trash compactor leads to future savings.

City Manager Tom Homan said workers installed a BigBelly Solar compactor in late December near Amato's Woodfired Pizza on South Sandusky Street as part of a pilot program. City officials want to see how the device, which cost about $2,800, performs before purchasing multiple units.

"It reduces the frequency you have to empty the trash; it's powered by the sun and we intend to see how it works," Homan said.

The units, about the same size and shape as on-street mailboxes, have a capacity of 150 gallons. They are fully contained and send a signal to the operator when they need to be emptied.

Despite the cost, the units could lead to long-term savings by decreasing the number of trips city workers make to empty trash bins.

The compactors, which are made out of recycled plastic and steel, also could prevent problems with overflowing trash cans.

Homan said the unit has a battery backup that can run the compactor if sunlight is scarce.

"They claim (the compactor) can work in a climate like Ohio," he said.

The location in front of Amato's was not the first choice for city officials. Originally, they considered the city trash can that gets the most use, which is located in front of Whit's Frozen Custard on Sandusky Street.

"There was a concern that the type of waste might be problematic," Homan said, noting that for the pilot program, the city wanted to test the device on more traditional garbage and without lots of sticky custard.

The city settled on the location near Amato's, which sees the second-largest volume of trash.

Homan said the city could purchase more units if the pilot program shows promise.

According to BigBelly Solar's website, the company has sold units to local governments in New York, Philadelphia and Raleigh, N.C., among others.