- Baltimore is spending $15 million on a three-year contract with Korea-based Ecube Labs Co. to install 4,500 smart trash bins around the city, as reported by The Baltimore Sun. Ecube says the deployment is "the largest smart waste deployment in global history."
- The bins will be deployed in three stages, with the company installing the first 150 during the first quarter of 2018. Deployment will begin around Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino, extend to business districts and then bus stops. The second phase will include around 350 trash bins later in the year, according to the Baltimore Business Journal, and the third phase hasn't yet been fully detailed.
- Ecube, which beat-out Boston-based Bigbelly for the contract, is working with the city's Department of Public Works to decide where to deploy bins first. There are plans for some of the smart bins, which alert city officials when they're full, to be modified to provide public Wi-Fi.
There are 20 Bigbelly cans scattered around Baltimore's Inner Harbor, and according to the city, they will remain operational, despite Bigbelly losing out on the bid. Choosing Ecube reportedly saved Baltimore $4 million, though the city council president voted against Ecube, saying he would have preferred a U.S.-based company.
Baltimore's investment in smart trash bins around the city is just the latest move in a developing commitment to addressing solid waste and litter around Charm City. The city distributed municipal trash cans in 2016, which ultimately lead to a decrease in litter in alleys and city streets. The city has joined with The Waterfront Partnership to install two solar- and water-powered trash wheels that keep trash from waterways reaching the city's harbor — with more planned. Baltimore is also considering a ban on expanded polystyrene food packaging.
Bigbelly and Ecube are in the midst of an ongoing legal skirmish, each saying the other is infringing on patents. Bigbelly already has a solid presence in the U.S., including recent contract expansions in Philadelphia. Ecube is seeing growth, though, and seeking space for an East Coast office is a clear signal that the company wants to continue to expand in the U.S. market.