Underground waste containers offer many benefits to property owners. It is an essential step toward a more efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly waste management solution.

By Brian Brandon

Trash collection has been a stagnant industry for some time. Small changes in technology and scheduling have provided incremental improvements, but it was not until recently that we witnessed a true waste collection revolution.

With a history dating back to the 1980s in Europe, underground trash containers were the future of trash collection. If you are looking for a progressive, method of collecting trash from high-density properties like parks, schools, apartment buildings and more, underground trash containers is your answer.

The First Units

Somewhere around 1985 the semi in-ground container concept made it is way to Canada. In 2013, the first heavy-duty semi in-ground units where manufactured in South Carolina. These units consist of a concrete precast well with 6-inch sidewalls, which provided a much stronger design compared to the use of first generation plastic wells. This new concrete design solved the costly problem of providing ballast, while at the same time dramatically increasing its durability within all climates and environments.

A traditional dumpster has a maximum capacity of 4 cubic yards (cy), whereas a typical underground trash container can hold significantly more—up to 6cy. This increase of capacity reduces the number of required pickups, thus effectively lowering the consumer’s trash transportation costs. Moreover, this reduction of service pickups can also lead to increased site safety while lowering the potential risk for property damage.

In-Ground Waste Containers

Through even greater advancements, the fully in-ground waste container was introduced in late 2016. These units further enhanced the aesthetically pleasing appearance by its much smaller optical footprint, no larger than a standard streetscape trash bin. Furthermore, customers can choose to clad the visible above ground section of the container in a variety of fully customizable wraps. Property owners can now finally create waste systems that blend in with the landscaping, and/or display advertisements and messages to their users, rather than their trash simply being an ugly eyesore.

Containers are installed by an approved contractor in one day. The refuse truck comes complete with an articulating crane mount behind the cab. The average time to empty is six minutes onsite. Once the green bag is emptied, the driver releases the line that holds the bag in a closed position. This is done over the hopper. The line is held in place by a clam cleat.

In 2017, the in-ground waste systems made their way to Florida. The City of Kissimmee saw the need to change the face of commercial trash collection. Kissimmee, who was redeveloping their growing downtown core, required a solution to their space constraints, to eliminate odors to keep out animals like raccoons and rats all while maintaining the aesthetics. As a result they have begun to implement the use of underground containers.

Underground waste containers offer so many benefits to property owners, those who service them and end users that it is no wonder they are growing in popularity. They are a truly revolutionary approach to waste management—changing the face of an industry that has resisted significant change for years. And while change always comes with growing pains, this is an essential step toward a more efficient, economical and environmentally-friendly waste management solution.

Brian Brandon is the General Manager at Sutera USA, LLC. He graduated from Fanshaw College in London, ON as a Construction Technician in 1966 and later went to Wilford Laurier University to study business. After college he started working as a Construction Superintendent, both in Ontario and the Northwest Territories. After 20 years in the field, Brian became a Construction Estimator and later a Construction Project Manager. In 1999 he was transferred to Greenville, where he completed his Construction career in 2011. In May 2012, Brian worked with a small group of people on developing a semi-underground container system. In 2013, Sutera USA, LLC was established, where Brian took on the role of General Manager. He can be reached at [email protected].