PORTLAND — Two initiatives to keep Portland litter-free hit the streets this week, as the city began installing 39 new solar-powered trash compactors and the owner of a downtown restaurant got the OK to post 10 of his cheeky inventions for disposing of cigarette butts.
The city installed 12 Big Belly Solar trash-compacting bins by the end of last year, including two on Peaks Island. Now, it has begun selecting locations for 39 new ones, said Troy Moon, Portland’s manager of environmental programs and open space.
Pedestrians immediately took to using two of the new solar units in Monument Square, right beside new contraptions installed Thursday by Mike Roylos, owner of the Spartan Grill, to curb the cigarette butts that collect in front of his restaurant and others on downtown Portland’s central pedestrian square.
Roylos’ invention, which he calls the Sidewalk Buttler, is a tubular container, painted to look like a mustachioed butler in a bow tie and bowler hat. It’s capped on both ends, strapped by metal to a utility pole, and has a circular hole where the butler’s mouth would be. Smokers deposit their spent cigarette butts there.
Each Buttler holds about 700 butts, which Roylos collects by detaching the bottom cap with a tool.
He sends the butts to a New Jersey company, TerraCycle, which completely recycles them, without incinerating them and adding to pollution.
“This concept breaks the cycle. It keeps them out of the water; Casco Bay is safe. It’s just a neat way to do it,” said Roylos, whose inventions are available for “adoption” for $39 each by emailing email@example.com.
Although the city prohibits smoking in Monument Square and other public spaces, it’s still common.
Clinton Lovejoy, a student at the nearby Maine College of Art, said he likes the trash compactors and the Buttlers.
Before the Buttlers arrived, he said, he would stub out his cigarette on the bottom of his shoe and toss it in an open-topped trash barrel.
As he finished smoking his cigarette outside Shay’s Grill Pub on Friday, he pushed the butt into the Buttler’s mouth.
“I’m an art kid, so I absolutely love this,” Lovejoy said. “It’s a butler, so I think that’s great. And you put it in its mouth, so I think that’s great.”
Jonathan O’Leary, a Portland resident who stopped briefly to speak in Monument Square as he held an unlit cigarette, said he, too, has put his butts in trash barrels.
“I’d definitely use it,” O’Leary said as he looked at the new Buttler.
Moon said the Big Belly Solar units hold six to eight times as much trash as regular barrels, so crews empty them far less often.
“Because these are compacting units, they have a much higher capacity than standard trash barrels,” Moon said. “They prevent trash from overflowing onto the sidewalk.”
The compactors cost $3,995 each, and the city got federal grant funding for 14 of them.
A Big Belly Solar unit was installed last year in busy Bell Buoy Park, near the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal on Commercial Street.
The city had to empty it daily only in early July and late September, rather than multiple times as in past years.
“The cool feature is, they let us know when they need to be serviced,” Moon said, by sending signals that city workers can track online.
The city has so far placed the latest group of solar-powered trash compactors in parks and squares, Moon said.
They may soon be placed along sidewalks on busy streets.
Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at: