Animal makeover plans for New Town communal bins

Screens covered in old photos of the city hide bins in Hanover Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
Screens covered in old photos of the city hide bins in Hanover Street. Picture: Neil Hanna
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MADCAP plans to decorate communal bins with animal print patterns are set to be considered at City Chambers, it has emerged.

Zebra-striped waste containers could become a common sight in the New Town as the city moves to beautify communal bins before introducing them to one of Edinburgh’s most affluent districts.

Cow bins in in the London borough of Hackney

Cow bins in in the London borough of Hackney

The zany move is inspired by similar projects in Hackney and Lewisham where communal recycling bins were painted with spots to resemble cows.

It is thought the bizarre makeovers increased recycling rates and slashed incidents of flytipping amid claims animal lovers were reluctant to dump rubbish next to bins that look like cuddly creatures.

In Edinburgh, other ideas being mooted for the communal bins include respraying them with brighter colours, using screens or decorating the ugly containers with local artwork or historic 

But heritage bodies have branded the plans “insulting” and said communal bins of any kind were unsuitable for Edinburgh’s most architecturally sensitive areas.

Environment officials will also be asked to consider new designs to make it easier for people to dump their rubbish inside amid concerns the mechanisms to open them are difficult to use and break 

Environment leader Councillor Lesley Hinds said despite long-standing complaints about black bags blighting the New Town, it was the appearance of the containers “that people most complain about”.

And she revealed an amendment asking officials to prepare a report on bin alternatives would be submitted.

She said: “This will look at whether they could be 
improved by painting them a different colour, or putting screens around them.”

The proposed report will be ordered following resistance from New Town residents to the introduction of black communal bins to their area, but would apply to the entire city.

Cllr Hinds said: “We’ll be asking officers to look at the potential for a different design.

“They will also examine whether there’s something that can be done in terms of screening bins, as has been done in Hanover Street and Frederick Street, where they have been covered with old photographs of Edinburgh.”

And of the cow-spotted bins in London, she added: “That example is a fun idea, but it is just one idea being considered.”

The left-field proposals have won cautious support from rival politicians including Conservative councillor Joanna Mowat, representing the city centre, who said it was a chance to reimagine bin design to make them “both beautiful and functional”.

“The idea of covering bins with some sort of wrap is something to be considered,” she said. “There is merit in the suggestion of making them more attractive, because most complaints are that they are ugly.”

Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “They need to look at underground systems. How can you beautify massive great bins with anything?

“I can just see wildcats and elephants prowling the streets, but really it’s dodging the issue. In fact, it’s almost insulting that it would placate anyone.”