'Smart' litter bins to save city a pile of money

Park keeper Jason Rudge with the new bin

Park keeper Jason Rudge with the new bin

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by

OXFORD City Council plans to spend £15,000 on solar-powered bins that email council workers when they’re nearly full.

The authority is introducing the bins as part of a scheme to save £80,000 a year by reorganising its street scene team, which deals with street cleaning and grounds maintenance.

But the scheme overall means four jobs will go.

The changes include the high tech bins, the first of which is being tested in Bury Knowle Park.

The bin, hired from the Big Belly Solar Compactor Bins company, has a solar panel attached to it that provides the power for an internal compactor.

It means it can hold up to 800 litres of waste – eight times more than the average street bin. It also emails the council offices when it is nearly full – saving council workers’ time that would be spent physically checking whether it needed emptying.

More of the high-tech bins could be used across the city if the trial is successful, but the council could not last night say how many bins were planned or where they would be placed.

If the scheme is rolled out across the city, it would help the council achieve savings of £80,000 a year from its street scene budget.

Other changes included in the proposals, agreed by the city executive last week, include using using special machines to remove chewing gum.

Under the overall scheme, four people will be given new duties as part of the changes while four positions will be lost by March 31 through a non-replacement of vacancies policy.

Council park keeper Jason Rudge said the bins would make staff members’ lives easier.

He said: “The bin we are trialling sends the office an email when it fills to 85 per cent capacity and then again when it gets to 95 per cent.

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“It is great for me as it means that I don’t have to keep checking if the bin is full.

“I can just empty it when it is full or at times when I'm not in the park it will be picked up by a park ranger to empty. I can focus my time on other projects within the park.”

There are currently 674 bins in Oxford, and the latest set of stainless steel waste and recycling bins were installed in the city centre three years ago, at a cost of £60,000.

John Tanner, the city board member for Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said the new bins were part of the ongoing drive to keep the city cleaner by concentrating on other tasks.

He said of the bins: “It’s a bit like having a partner who reminds you when you need to put the food waste bin out.”

He said: “We’re also going to be picking up more cigarette ends, we’re going to be removing more gum from the city centre.”

Mr Tanner added: “I only wish we could hand the bill back to Wrigley’s.”

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