Bins talk up a cleaner future in West Lothian

New waste bins around West Lothian are talking up a future where litter louts may become a thing of the past – as they say ”thank you” every time you use them.
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While the voice has described as a cross between “posh English and an android computer”, the idea has been shown to work in reducing litter.

Countryside manager Andy Johnston told a recent meeting of Linlithgow Area Committee (LAC) that bins placed around Linlithgow Loch were working well and there’d been a drop in litter in the area. Not only do the bins thank people for depositing litter, when they are full they message the council asking to be emptied, saving time and money.

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Councillor Tom Conn said: “I think the bins are being well received by both residents and visitors. Indeed my daughter who visited and was down at the Loch actually contacted me to ask ‘why does the bin thank you’. I said it’s because in Linlithgow we’re kind to strangers.”

Councillor Sally Pattle chaired the Linlithgow Area Committee meeting.Councillor Sally Pattle chaired the Linlithgow Area Committee meeting.
Councillor Sally Pattle chaired the Linlithgow Area Committee meeting.

He added: “Maybe it needs a more Scottish voice, but from what I observed with young kids continually going back and forward with bits of paper to put in the bin to hear it talk, it’s a sound investment for future generations.”

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Sally Pattle added: “Exactly. The gamification of rubbish bins.”

Mr Johnston said: “That’s exactly why the bins speak to you. It’s there for behavioural change.”

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LAC lead officer Graeme Struthers said: “It’s a really simple concept that has been so well received across the communities. I think it’s been a very good initiative.”

One of the talking bins in West Lothian.One of the talking bins in West Lothian.
One of the talking bins in West Lothian.

And at Livingston South Local Area Committee, Cleaner streets manager David Lees backed this up. He said there had been teething problems with some of the bins but repairs had been made and the bins were already showing cleaner streets and allowing staff to move more traditional bins to other areas. The bins are manufactured by Wybone.

A spokesman for the council said: “We currently have 68 bins of this kind around West Lothian as we speak with another five to be deployed at a later date.”

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