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WHEELIE CLEVER: New ‘smart’ bins set to be rolled out

WHEELIE CLEVER: New ‘smart’ bins set to be rolled out

Image: LDRS

Residents in Redcar and Cleveland are to receive new ‘smart’ bins – but they won’t be operational until later next year, The Local Democracy Reporting Service can reveal.

Redcar and Cleveland Council has begun buying wheelie bins fitted with so-called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips – or tags – in a bid to “future proof” bin collections and also intends to have refuse staff retro-fit existing bins.

The move will mean, for instance, that if a wheelie bin is stolen it can be located and returned to its rightful owner.

It will also allow the authority to collect real-time actual data relating to bin collections, such as the number of bins collected at any given time and average weights, along with information on recycling rates.

Last year after a procurement process the council approved a decision to award a £157,000 contract to the firm AC Weber to supply the new wheelie bins over an 18 month period running up until the end of March 31 2022.

More than 700 bins have since been bought.

A separate contract award with the same company, worth £101,000, involves the purchase of 150,000 RFID tags to be retro-fitted to bins.

It will be next year before the new smart bins scheme – which will cover general waste, green and recycling bins – will be officially launched and the technology goes live.

The move to smart bins is likely to be a huge logistical exercise with the council being responsible for 170,000 bins distributed among households in the borough.

Councillor Barry Hunt, cabinet member for neighbours and the environment, said the council had been assessing a range of services which could be more “digital” in their delivery, with the aim of being more effective and reducing cost.

He said replacing bins – largely because of theft from properties – had cost the council £72,000 in 2019/20.

Cllr Hunt said: “The programme to insert digital chips in the bins will not only allow the service to locate the bin, but also return it to its rightful owner.

“We have started to buy these enabled bins now, as it is more cost effective to have the digital chip inserted at the point of manufacture rather than to retrofit later, which we would still need to do for the wheelie bins we currently have.

“We have some 720 such bins in stock, but none are currently out with residents as we are awaiting both software upgrades and the appropriate IT enabled systems in our refuse vehicles.

“We anticipate being in a position to officially launch the scheme from spring 2022.”

Cllr Hunt added: “As a council, we are always looking for innovative ways to improve the delivery of our services, honour our commitment for a cleaner and greener environment and to create better value for money for our residents.

“Introducing RFID chips on our recycling bins provides a number of other benefits, for example, they allow us to check that all bins on a round have been processed.

“The technology will also allow us to monitor the weight of what we collect to improve the efficiency of our bin rounds.

“We are also exploring other ways on how we can improve the service for our residents and will be carrying out a survey to help us better understand any barriers our residents are facing inhibiting them from recycling more.”

Last week Cllr Hunt promised to revisit plans to increase replacement wheelie bin charges for residents.

As part of a raft of new proposed fees and charges, a  240 litre wheelie bin is due to rise in price by 4.5% from £22 to £23 and a 360 litre bin by 2.6% from £39 to £40 in 2021/22.

Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter


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