Collier County worked with Waste Management Inc. of Florida to order 24 side-by-side compactors and recycling receptacles. Available sunlight, space and surfaces determined the sites chosen for the pilot program, said Stephanie Kissinger, the public sector solutions manager at Waste Management Inc.

“The county wanted solar compactors (on the beach) but you can’t just put (them) free-standing on the sand. They have to be bolted to cement or wood,” Kissinger said. “You don’t want one of these sitting out on sand in a hurricane.”

The compactors, which were installed in late May, use a system that allows county parks and recreation workers to monitor trash levels online and sends workers a text message when the can is full. The system will make garbage pick-up at county beaches more accurate and efficient, Kissinger said.

The six-month pilot program will continue throughout the summer. Officials from Solid and Hazardous Waste Management and Parks and Recreation will meet in the fall to decide whether to expand the program.

The compactors are located at Cocohatchee Marina, Bayview Park, Gulfshore/Seagate Beach Access, Bluebill Beach Access, Tigertail Beach, Clam Pass Park, Vanderbilt Beach, Goodland Boating Park, South Marco Beach Access and Caxambas Marina.

The city of Naples installed four similar trash compactors along Naples Pier last fall. They plan to install additional compactors at Lowdermilk Park later this year.

Many traditional wire and cement receptacles have openings that allow birds and other animals to get into them, rummage around and ingest trash or spread it along the beach. “We can’t affect the volume of waste, but what we can help with is litter from birds or raccoons foraging in there and pulling stuff out,” Kissinger said.

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