It’s Robo-bin! Hi-tech army of ‘talking’ bins marches into Leeds city centre

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A small army of hi-tech solar-powered ‘talking’ bins - which could help slash street refuse collections to just a quarter of current rates - are set to hit Leeds.

Leeds City Council is piloting the new fleet of ‘smart’ digital bins, which compact litter down and even send out a warning signal 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 buy 17 ‘smart’ bins to be placed in city centre locations, and they could also be put in some of the city’s public parks. It extends a previous successful pilot at litter hotspots like the McDonalds restaurant in the Briggate.

It is believed that litter collections could be slashed by a ratio of four to one by using the new technology more widely.

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.”

There are currently no plans to extend the ‘smart’ bins scheme beyond the city centre and parks into household waste collections.

Leeds council carries out around 25 million individual household bin collections a year - more than two million a month. On average, every household in Leeds produces 590kg of household waste per year.

A wide-ranging alternate weekly black and green bin collection is already active in much of the city and council bosses hope to extend it to 80 per cent of households. They are also keen to raise recycling rates.

News of the ‘smart’ bins pilot also comes a month after the YEP 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 launching a new drive to boost recycling, including clamping down on excess black bins from addresses which have more than they are eligible for.