Matching the needs of today: Bins get clever

Written by: RWW | Published:

With waste management demands becoming more challenging, manufacturers of bins and containers are developing increasingly more sophisticated solutions. Freelance writer Claire Col takes a look at a selection.

The UK is well on the way to meeting the goal of recycling half of all household waste by 2020 according to the latest EU data. The new study by the EU’s statistical agency, Eurostat, shows that the our efforts have increased recycling and composting rates to 46% in 2012; that’s up from 39% in 2011. 

This positions the UK eighth among the top 10 best performers with Germany and Austria heading the league with recycling rates of 65% and 62% respectively.

As more of us are recycling our waste at home as well as in the commercial and public sectors, it’s often the technological advances of manufacturers that are spearheading these changes, making recycling easier and more economically viable - food waste recycling is a key example. As opportunities increase to divert food waste to sustainable waste technologies, wasted food equals wasted money. 

The UK Healthcare sector, for example, currently serves more than 1000 million meals each year at more than 19,000 sites. However, the equivalent of one in five of these meals is thrown away costing an estimated £230m a year and generating 121,000 tonnes of wasted food. As diversion of this from disposal becomes strategy, however, managing food waste is increasingly being factored into cost benefit analysis. 

Taylor Bins UK

In the wake of growing concerns over the quality of residential and commercial recyclate, and following the recent report from Zero Waste Scotland, the UK manufacturer of four-wheeled galvanised steel containers, Taylor, has launched the Cage Bin.

This 1,100 litre bin is designed to provide a purpose built solution to the problem of cross contamination in the collection of dry recyclables. 

Its mesh side ‘viewing panels’ allows collection crews and users to become instantly aware of any wrongly placed waste, preventing whole loads from becoming contaminated. The mesh panels has been designed to tap into the conscience of users who, once they’ve seen and understood what the intended contents of the unit should be, are said to be far less likely to cross contaminate.

Julian Gaylor, Taylor’s sales and marketing director, says: “The Cage Bin represents one of many steps that Taylor is taking to redress the perception of the waste container. 

“By harnessing the power of design and aesthetics, we’ve aimed to change the perception of the waste container from a traditional five sided metal receptacle to making it a key component in changing social attitudes to waste, improving recycling levels and reducing waste sent to landfill.”

The unit is said to be ideally suited to any location where the prevention of cross contamination of dry recyclables is a priority, and its lightweight design, made possible through using mesh as opposed to solid steel in its side walls, also makes it easier for waste collection operatives to use.


Can the design of imaginative containers encourage recycling? WRAP Cymru say they can and have used Wybone’s multi-sensory Strobe container to prove it.

Barnsley-based Wybone designs and manufacturers litter, recycling, grit and clinical waste bins. 

“Last year, WRAP Cymru issued a tender seeking to trial an innovative recycling container,” recalls Wybone’s Olivia Burton. “So our design team set about creating a container which could engage users and influence both behaviour change and enhance recycling rates.” 

The result, ‘the Strobe’ is a multi-sensory, solar powered, talking bin (pictured above).

Five units were placed at Bangor and Swansea Universities and the volumes of material, quality of recyclate, participation rates and consumer behaviour were monitored over a five-month period. 

The results were said to show an impressive 88% recycling rate, with only 12% of all the waste collected being contaminate.

The Strobe features braille and LED illuminated waste stream signs. Brightly coloured fascias help to quickly identify waste streams on approach, and it even says ‘thank you for recycling’. The clever deposit counter adds up the number of bottles and cans which have been recycled since it was last emptied, a visual way of showing how effective the unit is.

“All these features ensure inclusivity for all users, from the visually impaired to the hard of hearing,” adds Burton. 

“Bespoke audio messages and artwork options make the unit unique to each location and solar panels power the units ensuring it is a green investment for the future.” 

Leafield Environmental

To meet the growing demand for efficient and economically prudent food waste collection, Leafield Environmental, a UK designer and manufacturer of recycling and litter bins, has developed the SteriBin, described as an easy to clean, pedal operated recycling bin with a ‘no touch lid’. Originally designed to meet the cleanliness and infection control regulations of the NHS, the bin has an optional anti-microbial additive that acts as a barrier against germs and bacteria. 

Reportedly proven to reduce harmful species of bacteria, its sleek design allows integral labelling which has no hidden crevices where germs can collect. The foot pedal operation means users never need to touch the bin with their hands making it easier to drop or scrape waste directly into the bin.

Leafield Environmental MD Phil Maddox says: “The healthcare sector is realising that as well as saving money through more effective food handling, safe and hygienic food waste collection can also be a valuable commodity rather than just an inconvenient cost.”

The SteriBin is said to be perfect for managing food waste from the commercial, catering, education and public sector and the single lift lid 90L. 

“The bin can be dismantled and cleaned thoroughly in just eight minutes and an optional eco-friendly plastic liner is also available for the increasingly popular ‘bag free’ alternative,” continues Maddox. 

With options for collecting single or triple waste streams within the same ergonomic design, the SteriBin is said to have proved a versatile solution to a potentially problematic field of use and can be bespoke designed to meet client’s specific needs. 

UK Container Maintenance

Winnington-based UK Container Maintenance is celebrating saving its customers an estimated £200m with the repair and refurbishment of
1.2 million wheeled containers.

Established in 1998, the family-run company says it recognises that local authorities, businesses and waste companies have huge volumes of capital tied up in waste and recycling containers that are desperately in need of repair. 

For a third of the price of manufacturing and purchasing a new container, UKCM is currently restoring 99% of all types of waste and recycling containers it receives - previously considered derelict - and returns them to ‘better than new’ working order.

Julian Elston, managing director, explains: “UK Container Maintenance pride ourselves on our dedication to customers. These savings are calculated on the basis that the refurbishment of a waste container is a third of the price of buying a new container. We are thrilled at the extent to which we have been able to benefit the bottom line of our clients across the 16 years we have been established.”

UKCM have a long standing contract with Enterprise Manchester, part of Manchester City Council, and have been refurbishing their steel wheeled containers and skips that would usually be considered for scrap for over 10 years. 

Isup Nadat of Enterprise Manchester says: “UK Container Maintenance is fantastic in everything they do. Their service is exceptional. They stick to delivery dates. Their prices are very competitive and the quality of refurbishment work is the best.”

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