Edinburgh to get ‘smart’ bins

New sensory technology has been installed in over 300 litter bins by the City of Edinburgh Council as part of a trial to ensure that they are emptied before they reach capacity.

The sensor sends data via a mobile network to staff who can then predict which bins are almost full. It is hoped that the data gathered will also help to identify any improvements required in the collection of bins and routes. The information collected also allows staff to prioritise collections at busier spots as some bins may not need to be emptied as often as others.

Collections increase 24%

The new technology is being tested in the city centre, Leith Walk, Leith Links and Portobello. During August, their collections increased by 24% on average with some collections doubling or even quadrupling in frequency, demonstrating the amount of litter being thrown out. This data will be used for route planning in that area.

Ultimately it is hoped that the new technology will optimise planning on a daily basis with the most efficient routes for litter bin collections being used.

Another feature of the technology is a heat sensor – if there has been a fire it’s immediately detected and if there is a sudden spike in the results it could indicate a case of fly tipping.

Next step: Communal bins

The Council is considering rolling out the sensors in communal bins.

Transport and Environment  Convener, Cllr Lesley Hinds, said: “We are learning a lot from this trial which so far has been a success. 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.

“The success of the pilot is attracting a lot of attention from other major cities particularly in the US, where the authorities in Washington DC have contacted us to share our experiences with them.”