A new bin design may spell the end of the humble wheelie bin in apartment complexes. The revolutionary new rubbish receptacle system incorporates steel bins, placed in public spaces that feed into underground chambers. When the chamber becomes full, the council gets a notification. It then sends a specialized truck to lift the chamber out of the ground and into the rubbish truck for removal.
The University of Cambridge will install the system into an 800-hectare residential development in North West Cambridge. The development will include 1500 homes for University and College staff. The use of the underground waste system will remove the need for 9,000 wheelie bins otherwise necessary on the site.
The underground rubbish system consists of 450 recycling and general waste bins in the form of underground banks across 155 locations. Residents in the development will enjoy not needing to remember to put bins out for collection, smells should be reduced and the visual impact of banks of bins is also avoided. Each underground chamber is five cubic meters and there are different bins for household waste, mixed recyclables and paper. New residents to the development will be onboarded to the system through pamphlets and easy to read bin labels. Education about the use of the bins is integral to their successful use.
The bin system is lauded for directly reducing carbon by taking away the wasteful regular trucks coming for garbage that might not be there. These types of waste management systems are used extensively in Europe but have not been tested at this scale in the UK before. Gavin Heaphy, construction director for the North West Cambridge Development commented: “Building a sustainable development is imperative and the University has looked for innovative ways to deliver on this strategy. Communal underground bins across the site will encourage recycling without detracting from the streetscape.”
One danger of the new bin system is the risk people will fall down into the chamber. This problem is hopefully avoided with the use of large warning signs on the bin lids urging people not to climb into them.
Underground waste and recycling systems have been common in continental Europe since the early 1990’s. These types of systems are slowly making their way to the UK. They will be particularly useful for new dense urban developments where rooms for bins or access for trucks is limited. A Cambridge University spokeswoman said: "Underground bins are used extensively across Europe and have been installed in accordance with our own protocols and with the advice of the local authorities." The bins may also help people reduce waste by being more conscious of what they produce as they take it out to the communal bin areas. A quarter of the UK's estimated 330 million tonnes of waste a year is generated from homes and business. In efforts to reduce this massive waste problem, the government is considering fines for people who fail to recycle their rubbish.
A quarter of the UK's estimated 330 million tonnes of waste a year is generated from homes and business. In efforts to reduce this massive waste problem, the government is considering fines for people who fail to recycle their rubbish.