Newham Council is the latest local authority to switch to Bigbelly’s fill-level monitoring and solar compacting technology after it installed 26 smart stations in August and achieved almost 90 per cent efficiency in just two weeks.
Public Realm Services (PRS) Ltd, a new Local Authority Trading Company wholly owned by Newham Council, rolled out what is referred to as the ‘world’s most hi-tech bin’ as a result off its ability to trade on the open market.
The company’s arm’s length relationship to the council enables it to make profit, all of which is reinvested, as well as create efficiencies throughout the supply chain.
The Bigbelly stations have been installed at prominent high footfall locations, some of which are outside Tube stations in Newham, at various points along Barking Road and outside a number of schools. Using solar power compacting technology to compact the rubbish, each unit is able to hold over five times the amount found in a traditional litterbin.
The Bigbelly stations also contain sensors to monitor their fill levels. As each unit reaches capacity, it triggers an email alert to the PRS office at the council’s depot on Folkestone Road, East Ham, so that staff can be sent to empty it. It allows the company to more efficiently allocate their staff to carry out other duties such as removing graffiti, litter-picking and chewing gum removal.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “This is exciting because we are using renewable energy sources to be more green. Crushing down the rubbish, and making more space means we can better use our resources, both staff and vehicles, to make the borough cleaner.”
Doug Wilkinson, Managing Director at Public Realm Services Ltd, added: “It isn’t directly about saving money, but about saving people’s time and creating the capacity to do more. In only a few weeks the impact of Bigbelly is already being felt. For example, some of the bins on Barking Road were being emptied every day, even if they were only a quarter full. Now, from the data we are receiving electronically from the units, we’re staving off collections for three to four days at a time or until the bin tells us it’s full. Now we know exactly when to collect them, which means our team’s time can be better spent elsewhere, removing unsightly litter and fly tips.”
Wilkinson believes that the 26-unit installation is the beginning of a long-term strategy and expansion programme under a five-year plan that aims to educate a wide range of stakeholders including Newham residents and collection staff on the benefits of Bigbelly.
Mark Jenkins, Sales Director at Egbert Taylor, commented: “We’re seeing a swathe of councils, not just in London but up and down the UK, that are beginning to understand the implications of integrating smart technology into their waste collection programme. This isn’t about installing technology simply for technology’s sake, but about using Bigbelly as a tool to generate efficiencies and improve the urban realm by planning waste collections based on real-time and accurate data, which simply isn’t available using traditional containers. Emptying bins that aren’t full is a waste of resource, which is something that’s becoming increasingly important to councils.”
“Litter is very visual,” concluded Doug Wilkinson. “The more we can reduce the on-street presence of litter or overflowing bins, the more pleasant a place the London Borough of Newham will become to live, visit and do business. If we can also reduce the resource we’ve traditionally allocated to this in the process then that can only be a good thing for everyone within the community.”