City places smart trash cans in South Baltimore, looks to add more in other neighborhoods

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Mayor Catherine Pugh uses one of the city’s new smart trash cans as Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow watches. Image still via Charm TV.

More than 60 solar-powered smart trash cans hit the streets in South Baltimore today, marking the start of a program for the cans that compact trash and recyclables using energy from the sun and can signal to trash collectors when they need to be emptied.

And like the waste basket in your kitchen, the cans can be opened by pushing a pedal at the base. In a release, DPW touted the design of the cans that “confines litter better, and helps keep rodents away” and compacts trash so it doesn’t overflow.

The Casino Local Development Council, an advisory group representing neighborhoods near the Horseshoe Baltimore, spent $300,000 for the rollout of the cans, and the Maryland Port Administration will spend $900,000 to place the cans in some of the city’s business districts later this year, Department of Public Works Director Rudy Chow said at a press conference today.

In January, the Board of Estimates approved a $15 million contract for the maker of the trash cans, the Seoul-based Ecube Labs. The company’s chief financial officer, Michael Son, told the Baltimore Business Journal at the time there would be a third release of the cans that would be “much larger” than the first two phases.

The cans are part of larger effort to keep streets clean that includes street sweeping, rat eradication and the green municipal trash cans residents received several years ago.

“These smart cans will provide a means for our citizens on our busy street corners to do the right thing the trash,” said Chow.

Cherry Hill, Westport and Ridgley’s Delight are some of the first neighborhoods to receive the cans, and others will be placed along Light, Charles, and Hanover streets in the South Baltimore area. DPW spokesman Jeffrey Raymond elaborated in an email that Pigtown and Federal Hill will also be getting smart cans.

In some of her first public remarks since going viral after she was caught on camera looking at a blighted block and suggesting that “we should take all this shit down” and exclaiming, “Ew, you can smell the rats,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said the cans are another tool in getting trash off the streets.

“But the real first tool is this, our hands,” she said, holding her left hand aloft. “Because trash doesn’t get on the ground by itself, and we really do want to make sure we’re keeping or getting our city to be cleaner.”

She referred to the walks she takes in the eight neighborhoods that are part of the Violence Reduction Initiative, which is where Fox 45 filmed her as she made the off-the-cuff statements.

Those areas are “trash-filled, trash-impacted, which really makes no sense,” she said.

“And so we want to make sure we’re doing our part in terms of providing cans, so the people, when they’re walking down the street, will somehow find their way to put the trash in the trash can.”

The event ended with cameras following Pugh to the street outside the Cherry Hill Town Center, where she made what DPW called a “ceremonial disposal of the first pieces of trash.”

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore Business Journal, b and others. Prior to joining Baltimore Fishbowl, he was an editor at City Paper from 2012 to 2017. He can be reached at [email protected]
Brandon Weigel


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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m happy to read that the city is investing in trash cans with lids. If only they could get people in the city to throw their trash in the cans instead of on the ground. I recently had relatives visit and within a few hours of being in Baltimore, they commented about how many people they saw just casually throwing their trash on the ground when there are trash cans just a few steps away.

  2. I’m happy that Madam Mayor has these investors investing back into our communities where they make the most money if it look good maybe people will feel good in return act good. I’m a firm believer of that

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