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.