Saturday, 16 July 2011

Introducing The Big Belly

The 'Big Belly' is a computerised, solar-powered bin which costs £3,200 and it's hitting the streets of Inverness.  It can take eight times as much rubbish as a normal bin of its size.

Machinery inside the bin compacts letter automatically and an internal computer is programmed to send an email to the council when the bin needs to be emptied.

Before anyone thinks Inverness and solar power aren't particularly well suited, the bin only requires eight hours of daylight a month to power its electronic devices, as well as the metal compressor which crushes rubbish at specific intervals.

Made by Kyron, an Irish company, the Big Belly has already been trialled in Ireland as well as Devon's seaside towns.

Inverness council will consider replacing all of its 50 public bins with it if the trial is successful as they consider it could reduce the burden on workers, as they wouldn't have to empty bins so frequently.  Unison aren't particularly happy because of the implications for workers.

I'm all for technology making life easier for us, but what is wrong with council staff emptying public bins during the night? They are emptied in Florence and Rome between the hours of 12.00am and 4.00am and thus keep people in employment.

A few years ago I decided to take a photograph of my grandparents home in Dundee.  It used to be a typical Scottish street with its towering, sturdy tenements.  What I saw was a long line of wheelie bins, of various sizes, choking the pavement. Back in my childhood there was an area of the 'back green' given over to residents' metal dustbins - all marked with varying degrees of artistic skill. The binmen would come along weekly, empty them and the stoor from the ashes would whirl high in the air, clinging to the washing of those who forgot it was bin day. Back then, perhaps more so than now, recycling took place and the main content of bins was from ashes plus the odd piece of food packaging. Bottles, paper, peelings were all recycled in some way.

I digress.  If the Big Belly proves to be a smash hit outside McDonalds in Inverness will we be seeing it decorating pavements outside homes all over Scotland? It would have to be permanently parked on pavements because few people would be able to move it when full.

The cost of these bins seems prohibitive to me but it does prove rubbish makes money for some. Sadly not us.


Joe Public said...

Is vandalism not a problem In Inversess?

If it is, the solar panels won't last long.

Smoking Hot said...

Agree with Joe ... the tech side of the bins will be destroyed at worst or messed about with at best. Total waste of money.

subrosa said...

Vandalism in Inverness Jo? I didn't realise it had reached that far north. :)

subrosa said...

Funnily enough SH, I thought exactly the same when I was writing about it, then though I'll wait and see if anyone mentions destruction.

Well done being first!

English Pensioner said...

Only one compartment? What's happened to the requirement to sort one's rubbish into four bins for recycling? I must admit, if there was one near me, I would be very tempted to use it for my garden rubbish which has to be taken to the tip a few miles away.

JRB said...

OK – I think I‘ve now managed to control the hysterical laughter that has overtaken me since first hearing of this scheme.

So downtown Inversnecky is to have a solar powered Big Belly Bin outside the Big Mac. Sounds fun.

But how do you explain to all the punters how to use a litter bin, solar powered or not.

For years and years they have simply just casually dropped their carry-out containers and rubbish where they stood or with a carefree abandonment tossed it over their shoulder.
That has worked just fine for Inversnecky’s city centre diners. So why should they change the habits of a lifetime now?

I’m sure the EU would rule that the imposition of a Big Belly was an infringement of the Human Rights & Civil Liberties of Inversneckies nocturnal Big Mac munchers.

Sorry - I have to stop – I feel another fit of hysterical laughter coming on.

subrosa said...

The problem I see EP is that one of these would be too heavy to be moved once it was full. My garden bin when full is heavy enough at times, but with eight times the content... far too much for me.

subrosa said...

Ah John, I just knew you'd have heard of this. :)

At first I thought it was a joke but alas no.

You paint a wonderful image and one which also brings tears to my eyes.

Mark The Skint Sailor said...

I can see a problem with this straight away. The bin itself is marked "bottles, cans, paper - recycling only".

Which means people have to read before depositing rubbish in it. Given A significant proportion of our population come out of school unable to read these days, I reckon it will be canned under equality and diversity legislation.

Apogee said...

Hi SR. I'm assuming that these things are intended to replace the current rubbish bins in the street,at that price.
I'm just wondering what the scrap value of these things would be,it may be a more attractive item to the itinerant metal thieves than power cables, telephone cables or the lead of your roof. Hope they are well bolted down ! But we already have devices that wander the streets picking up rubbish, they are called "humans".The council already hires them and they seem efficient, cheap to operate and are self maintaining,and not a target for metal thieves,would seem a better bet?

Leg-iron said...

Solar powered? In Inverness?

I'm a hundred miles south of Inverness and there's not enough sunlight to power a garden light in winter.

They'll work great for about four months of the year. There'll be another four months when they won't work at all.

I'm surprised nobody is tapping into rain power here. We certainly get a lot of it.

subrosa said...

Del, Highland council are known for their strange initiatives. They'll come up with some excuse no doubt.

subrosa said...

Seems so Apogee.

Now there's another thought. Middle of the night...

subrosa said...

LI, get rid of that greenhouse of yours and dig a flowing stream. Then you can have hydro all for yourself. :)

Don Coughlan said...


I read your recent blog about our Big belly unit on trial in Inverness. I would like to add a comment as it was a very thought provoking article (thank you for raising awareness of our compactors) and there were some very interesting comments by your readers.

Id like to respond to some of the issues and opinions raised. Apologies for the bullet point nature of my comments.

1. Yes even in Inverness the solar panels will work all year round. Solar technology has vastly improved over the past few years and continues to do so.
2. Oh ye of little faith in your community! Regarding vandalism, this culture is the exact same throughout Ireland and the UK and we have only lost one unit out of hundreds installed. The product is manufactured in the USA from the same materials used on the Ice Hockey rinks, the polycarbonate top, over the solar panel, has never been pierced and you would need a sledgehammer to crack it.
3. The retail cost of the compactor is £3500 not £3200. Councils can acquire the units without using any capital funds. They pay for the units on a monthly basis DIRECTLY from the savings and efficiencies each units generates. Even if a council was using capital funds to buy the bins, the payback is only 12-18 months and the lifespan of the bins is 7.5 years.
4. How savings are generated? – If a council is emptying a street bin twice a day, it will only need to empty a Big belly once a week. This saves massive hours of operatives workload that can be re-deployed into other more critical areas. This reduction in collections saves Councils a fortune in vehicle fuel, maintenance and carbon costs. One of our councils has reduced their truck time from 21 hours per day to 10 hours per day.
5. The big Belly eliminates weekend collections – savings huge overtime expense and vehicle costs
6. The Big Belly eliminates overflowing bins which reduces street cleaning requirements.
7. Because of its enclosed nature, the Big belly eliminates problems associated with birds and vermin scattering rubbish across streets, car parks , parks and beaches saving another small fortune in litter picking costs.
8. The Big belly is bolted to the ground for health & safety and anti theft purposes. We have never had a unit robbed across 18 countries worldwide.
9. The bin is emptied by opening the door and lifting the back of rubbish out of the bin. The rubbish isn’t compacted into a brick type format and the average weight of the full bin is 9-11 kilos adhering to all health and safety regulations.
10. The Big Belly sends an email when the bin is 85% full. A website the council uses provides full mapping, litter volume, efficiency data and sends automated fill alerts to relevant council crews. This saves councils a fortune by eliminating the current process of “milk run” type truck and crew rounds emptying empty bins etc.

I hope this clarifies everything and thank you again for highlighting the trial in Inverness. I have followed you on twitter from our @bigbellysolaruk account and our website is I would really appreciate it if you could publish my response and I trust you with same.

If you need anything further please contact me at any of the detail below.



Don Coughlan
Kyron UK Limited
mobile: 0044 (0) 7895 043079
tel : 0044 (0) 844 8797684

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