Direct Environmental Corporation, a company founded by Frank Cruz, who was born and bred in the south Bronx, started as a small Hunts Point firm manufacturing garbage disposal systems and trash compactors for apartment buildings.
“Compacting trash is environmentally beneficial,” Cruz explained. “Instead of burning the garbage, you reduce its size. It is a natural segway into green products.”
Cruz’s firm, which has grown to employ 20 people, has created a set of green cleansers they marketed to facilities managers all over the Bronx and beyond.
Instead of using name brand window or all-purpose cleaners, which Cruz said smell and contain harmful chemicals, he is marketing an odorless alternative to clean all types of surfaces.
“We offer a safe, environmentally sound alternative to the toxic cleaners on the market,” Cruz said. “A product claiming to be green should not smell. The world is under the mistaken impression that green does not clean well because it has no smell.”
The apple of Cruz’s eye is the distributorship his firm obtained for the Big Belly Solar Powered Compaction System. The system, built by a Massachusetts based manufacturer, harnesses the power of the sun to compact trash in public disposal bins so they need to be emptied less frequently.
Cruz said that since Big Belly Solar Powered bins can hold up to eight times as much trash as a traditional waste disposal basket, it saves a facility or municipality both time and money by requiring fewer pick-ups by sanitation crews. This in turn means less fuel being burnt by garbage trucks.
“Traditional waste baskets on street corners fill quickly,” Cruz noted. “The Big Belly takes away all of the fluff by compacting the trash to the point that all the remaining air disappears.”
Cruz foresees that communities using the big belly will see a reduction in fuel emissions, consumption of gasoline, equipment maintenance, and in neighborhoods with high asthma rates, a reduction in hospitalizations.
Cruz said the State of New York Office of General Services has put eleven Big Belly trash receptacles into action at the state capital in Albany, and municipalities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He has also distributed the machines to housing developments, such as Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan and neighborhood business districts in Queens.
Despite the company’s success, Cruz said he is eager to expand into the Bronx, where he feels his green products can be useful in improving the overall quality of life of our neighborhoods.
“Like television going digital,” Cruz conjectured, “our world is going green.”