Raleigh Pilots Underground Trash Program

May 28, 2019

Artist's rendering of how the Molok waste collection system will look in Raleigh.
Credit City of Raleigh

The City of Raleigh is testing out a new way to collect trash and recycling.

A year-long pilot program aims to get roll carts off the sidewalks downtown. Instead, garbage, mixed recycling, and cardboard will be collected in large underground cylinders. Six of the cylinders are being installed at the corner of Wilmington and Hargett streets this week.

Inside the cylinders, materials will be collected in industrial-strength bags, much like a giant wastebin. Officials estimate each one can hold the equivalent of 20 roll carts worth of garbage or recycling. Sanitation workers will monitor their levels and empty them using a garbage truck specially modified to work as a crane.

A modified garbage truck acts as a crane to empty the full containers.
Credit Molok

The partially buried containers are a product of the Finnish firm Molok. They're used throughout Europe, but Raleigh officials say this is the first city in the nation to adopt the underground storage model.

They hope this will cut down on the need for garbage trucks to make stops downtown, and improve walkways for pedestrians.

Garbage carts were identified as the top concern in a 2018 downtown cleanliness survey.

Downtown businesses that want to participate can volunteer to give up their carts and test out the new collection system during its year-long pilot.