‘Smart’ bins with swipe card access rolled out

The 'smart' bins have been used in the Netherlands for many years. Picture: comp
The 'smart' bins have been used in the Netherlands for many years. Picture: comp
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State-of-the-art “smart” bins which can be accessed only by a swipe card and send a signal to warn they are getting full are to be rolled out as part of a £100,000 project.

Six of the “super bins” are being plonked in Rose Street as part of a major pilot.

The specially designed containers are bristling with technology which Essential Edinburgh and council chiefs hope will change the way businesses put out their rubbish forever.

Traders will access the bins using a swipe card, which will record the amount of material they place inside, allowing the council to charge the correct amount for collection. When the bin is 80 per cent full, it sends a signal that it needs to be collected, reducing the number of bin lorry journeys needed.

The “full bin” is then rotated with another bin and cleaned.

It is hoped the communal containers will cut the number of collections, prevent overflowing and stop vermin getting inside.

The total cost of rolling out the pilot project is £100,000, but it is hoped the outlay will reap dividends and comes at a time businesses are facing increasing pressure to better manage their waste, with all firms required to separate recyclable material for collection by 2014.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which is working with the city council on the project, said if the plan works the bins will be installed into streets so they sit flush with the street-scape, making them less of an eyesore.

He said: “We believe this system will take many bins off the street altogether – and that’s the ultimate goal. Initially, once we launch this pilot, we will put the bins above ground to ensure we have them in the best locations.

“The longer-term plan is to site them below ground, thus greatly reducing the visual clutter even more.”

Environment convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said the smart bins will complement another pilot which will see trade waste only collected during certain time windows in focus areas.

A shared trade waste system is in use at Glasgow Airport and Edinburgh city centre would be seen as a major testing ground for a product that has operated successfully for many years in the Netherlands.

Green environment spokesman Cllr Chas Booth gave the scheme a cautious welcome.

He said: “Overflowing and poorly-presented trade waste is a big problem in such a densely packed and old city as Edinburgh, so anything that can improve the quality and efficiency of collection has got to be a good thing.”

A tendering process to pick the right design of bin is also expected to get under way next year. The project is being supported financially by Zero Waste Scotland.