City officials hope to roll out high-tech trash receptacles in Buckhead soon.

That’s right: Solar-powered, wifi-connected collection boxes soon could stand ready to take in shoppers’ trash at about 40 Buckhead locations. Others could be set up in downtown Atlanta. Some could be on the streets as soon as July, city officials said recently.

Just don’t call them ‘garbage cans.’ “We never use the ‘g-word,’” joked Don Dixon of the Mayor’s office of marketing and partnerships.

Instead, they’re called “Bigbellies.” Or, more properly, parts of the Bigbelly smart waste and recycling system. That’s the name used by the Massachussetts-based company that makes the high-tech trash collection system it brags now operates in 47 countries.

Bigbellies’ supporters say the units compact trash, avoiding spillovers and keeping rodents at bay, and then, once the units are full, they text message trash collectors that it’s time for a pickup.

That way, the city will be able to better manage its trash collections and save money, Dixon said. Rather than sending garbage trucks out to collect from cans that may be empty, city officials can devise routes that empty only full cans.

Plus, “from a sustainability standpoint, they make a lot of sense,” said Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, director of the mayor’s office of sustainability. “They are solar powered.”

City officials say they have met with representatives of the Community Improvement Districts in Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta and are negotiating to spread the Bigbellies along Peachtree in the area contained within the CIDs.

Some members of the Buckhead CID’s board in the past have indicated little interest in Bigbellies because they offer receptacle-side advertising, which is how the company pays for the system.

During the CID board’s June 1 meeting, several members worried the ads would create driving distractions and visual clutter.

“This sounds like a whole workaround on the billboard thing,” board member Robin Suggs said.

But other CID board members say they see advantages to the Bigbelly system.

“I’ve moved 180 degrees,” board member Thad Ellis told other CID board members during the June 1 meeting. “When we first talked about this, I envisioned Dumpsters. But it’s tasteful. They’ve won me over. It’s professionally done.”

The Buckhead CID board is expected to consider in July whether to approve Bigbellies.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.