Sensors and computer tablets rolled out to tackle litter

Bin lorry driver Colin Brown with the new tablet technology. Pic: Scott Taylor
Bin lorry driver Colin Brown with the new tablet technology. Pic: Scott Taylor
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sensors which can tell when rubbish is overflowing are being considered for communal bins across Edinburgh.

Council bosses are rolling out a range of gadgets in their fight against overflowing bins and mounting rubbish.

Lorry crews have been given iPad-style tablets to track their routes – and sensors capable of monitoring litter have been fitted in hundreds of bins.

City leaders say the Capital’s success in using the technology to battle filth was already attracting attention from cities across Europe and the US – 
including Washington DC.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment leader, said: “The sensors are currently in litter bins but if the positive results continue we’d like to see this roll out to communal bins and recycling banks.”

As part of a year-long trial, a total of 323 litter bins in the city centre, Leith Walk, Leith Links and Portobello Promenade have been fitted with sensors that allow them to “tell” bin men when they are full. The technology uses ultralasers to sense how much litter is in the bin – with in-built heat sensors also able to alert bosses to possible fires.

Council officials can use the system to monitor when bins need emptying, with any sudden spike in the data indicating fly-tipping.

In August, collections in the trial areas increased by 24 per cent on average, with some collections doubling or even quadrupling in frequency.

Bosses said refuse crews can respond to overflowing bins within the hour. Data sent back by the sensors can also be used to create more efficient routes for emptying litter bins.

Cllr Hinds said: “The success of the pilot is attracting a lot of attention from other major cities particularly in the US and Washington DC where the authorities have contacted us.”

Meanwhile, bin crews have been kitted out with computer tablets as part of a separate, two week-long trial that seeks to give more accurate information about the location of bins – as well as feeding information back to the council about why any weren’t collected.

For example, bin men can let bosses know immediately if bins were not put out on the street correctly, or if access to them was blocked.

Andy Crofts, general manager of Enevo UK – the company behind the bin sensor technology – said: “The Edinburgh project team have understood the importance of using accurate data to improve waste services for the city and have fully embraced Enevo smart waste technology during the pilot.”

The two trials are costing £20,000 to implement.

The Evening News is currently appealing for your pictures and examples to help combat the growing scourge of overflowing bins. Our Bin Watch campaign has so far highlighted a number of problem hotspots across the Capital – from South Queensferry to Leith Walk and Sciennes. Send us your images and tip-offs on Facebook and Twitter, or call us on 0131-311 7538. You can also email