Civic News

Ecube Labs gets $15M city contract to install ‘smart’ trash cans

The company will begin installation in the coming weeks. The city's board of estimates approve the contract despite a protest from a rival firm.

An Ecube Labs display at the Smart City Innovation Summit Asia 2017.

(Photo via Twitter)

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a $15 million contract on Wednesday for Ecube Labs to install new solar-powered trashcans and recycling bins on city streets with sensors that alert workers when they are full.
According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the trash cans are equipped with features that are designed to make trash collection more efficient. From the BBJ:

Ecube’s trash cans all connect wirelessly to a hub at the city’s Department of Public Works offices. When a trash can gets full, it sends an alert to DPW workers letting them it needs to be emptied. The system also draws an ideal route to tell workers what the most efficient route to empty out multiple cans at a time. Each trash can also acts as a compactor, and will push down trash as the can gets full to increase the amount of time before it needs to be emptied.

Ecube, which is based in Seoul, South Korea, plans to open a Baltimore office, which would be its first on the East Coast. The CleanCUBE bins will be installed in three phases, with the first coming 150 bins coming in the first quarter of the year. A second phase will introduce another 150 this year.

Video of the Board of Estimates hearing shows that a representative from smart trash can company Bigbelly registered a protest of the deal, pointing out that the Massachusetts-based company manufactures in the U.S. Ecube and Bigbelly each also have pending lawsuits against each other over patent claims.
However, the city’s finance department recommended approval of the Ecube contract and it passed the Board of Estimates. Only City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young registered a vote against the proposal, which came after he voiced concerns that manufacturing of the trash cans should be done in the U.S.

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