AN army of hi-tech solar-powered ‘talking’ bins - which could help slash total refuse collection rounds to just a quarter of current rates - have hit the streets of Leeds city centre.
Leeds City Council is piloting the new fleet of ‘smart’ digital bins, which compact litter down and even warn the owner when they need emptying.
The futuristic litter vessels - dubbed waste and recycling ‘stations’ - operate by a mechanism powered by a solar panel.
They include a ‘telemetry’ function which communicates with a web based app to provide information on how full the bin is and sends out an alert when it needs emptying.
Council officials have just signed off funding to extend the pilot.
They haven’t ruled out a citywide rollout in the future.
It is believed that bin collections could be slashed by a ratio of four to one by using the new technology more widely.
Currently, the council carries out 25 million individual bin collections a year - more than two million a month. A wide-ranging alternate weekly black and green bin collection is also active in much of the city.
Coun Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety said: “We wanted to test if having a fewer number of bins that could take more rubbish by compacting it, would help our street cleaning teams offer an even more effective service.
“We know now that there are some efficiencies to be gained but we need to deploy these bins in different areas, like parks, to see if they’ll have an impact there too. Buying more bins will help us determine if these smart bins are the way forward for Leeds or not.”
On average, every household in Leeds produces 590kg of household waste per year.
News of the pilot comes a month after it was revealed that households with too many black bins could see them removed as part of plans to combat a drop in recycling rates.
The council is launch a new drive to boost recycling, including clamping down on excess black bins from addresses which have more than they are eligible for.