At first I was impressed by the sudden appearance of the new solar-powered trash compactors in Downtown Crossing. They are of course a big improvement over these trash cans. I have to be at least a little pleased when any public entity invests any money at all in any kind of renewable energy.
But I've been thinking about this a bit more, and I have a concern. Won't these new compactors mean substantially less recycling?
Maybe my impression is wrong, but I thought that people without better sources of income went around and dug through the trash in order to collect bottles and cans to return them for the nickel deposit. I've certainly seen this happen a lot, but maybe I'm overestimating the total amount of containers that get recycled in this way. The Boston Globe article claims that the trash cans are currently emptied 15 times per day, which could mean that people don't have much of a chance to get the containers out of the trash before the trash is picked up.
I wouldn't expect anyone to be reaching into a trash compactor to fish out bottles and cans.
Also, can the recyclable components of the compacted trash be extracted? I would guess not. I know that there are some former recycling professionals in the audience — maybe one of you knows the answer to this.
The city has lately been putting out some recycling bins in public places, like the Boston Common, but I have not seen many yet. If they were to speed this up, then maybe it would mitigate the problem.