New solar-powered ‘brainy bins’ in Chester city centre can hold more waste because of an in-built crusher and will text the council to say ‘please empty me’ when nearly full.
The 60 smart bins, made by US company Big Belly, can even act as wi-fi hot-spots to beam out visitor information or special offers on products available in nearby stores.
Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) is leasing the bins in an initiative supported by the CH1 Business Improvement District that will replace the current 77 litter bins across the city centre and at The Groves.
The bins, which increase the capacity of each unit almost six fold, from 120 litres to 700 litres, incorporate a solar panel to charge a battery linked to a compacting system that packs down the waste to get more in.
A monitoring system keeps an eye on the bin, allowing an email or a text message to be sent when the bin is getting full so that it is only emptied when necessary.
Maria Byrne, head of place operations at CWaC, which includes Streetscene, said: “This will allow place operations to focus the additional capacity created into improving the cleansing standards within the city, a key outcome of the Chester City Improvement Plan.
“The units also have the ability to act as wi-fi hot-spots which in the future have the potential to enable the council and its partners to provide visitors with key information on activities in the city.
“Chester has also been selected by the suppliers as a centre of excellence for this product in the north which will allow access to further development in the technology.
“Dependent upon the success of this project, there is a potential that the bins may be used in other locations across the borough in high footfall areas or remote locations.”
Big Belly bins are in use all over the world including Times Square in New York plus Bath, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham in the UK.
In future bins could even be fitted with sensors that give online information about the local weather or traffic conditions.
CWaC says the annual leasing cost for the 60 bins is £68,640 or £22 per unit per week.
But Big Belly claims each unit has been proven to return an average £77 per week in savings and efficiencies.