Biggest underground bin system in UK up and running

The biggest underground bin system in the UK has started operating in north-west Cambridge.

The Shared Waste Service for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils has started collecting residential waste for innovative underground bins at the University of Cambridge’s new district, Eddington, in the north-west of the city.

Residents will take their waste and mixed recycling to bin chutes set into the pavement outside their homes, where it will fall into an underground chamber. A sensor will notify the council when it is full, so collections only take place when needed. A lorry will then hoist the container out of the ground and empty the waste into the vehicle.

Benefits of the new system for residents include the reduced visual impact of wheelie bins, as one underground bin replaces around 20 wheelie bins and not having to store or move wheelie bins, or remember when and which bins to put out for collection.

The 150-hectare site, which is the largest of its kind in the country, is an integral part of the University of Cambridge’s innovative vision for Eddington to create a sustainable living space for people and to help them lead more environmentally-friendly lives.

When completed, it will benefit from 450 recycling and general waste bins in the form of underground banks placed across 155 locations, eliminating the need for roughly 9000 wheelie bins.

Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Councils cabinet member for environmental health, said: “This is an exciting and welcome step forward in designing in waste management needs at the planning stage for new developments, and using new technologies like fill-monitoring systems to minimise the impact of collections on traffic and emissions."

Rosy Moore, executive councillor for Environmental Services and City Centre, said: “This significant project represents a completely new way of working with partners to collect recyclable materials and waste in an urban environment, so to see it come to fruition with this attractive system operating is very satisfying. We look forward to continuing to work with the North West Cambridge Development team to deliver a great service to residents.”

Heather Topel, project director of the North West Cambridge Development, commented: “The university’s vision for Eddington to be an exemplar of sustainable living has been shared with the local authorities throughout planning for the development. We hope that the bin system will help people live more sustainably by encouraging residents to think more about integrating recycling and waste into everyday life. The unique underground bin system is something which has captured the attention of many and we hope it will also be of interest to the local community.”