Dutch unleash intelligent robot bins: No ID, no rubbish
Saving money, carbon... the world
The Netherlands is rolling out intelligent bins that demand ID before accepting rubbish, and let the truck know when they need to be emptied, pointing towards the day when we'll all have to pay for the stuff we throw away.
Altogether 6,000 intelligent bins are being deployed across The Netherlands, and green think tank Environmental Resource Management has calculated that just one of the cities involved (Groningen) saved itself £72,000 in the first year of deployment, and reduced its carbon footprint by 18 per cent, though the council seems more interested in the reduction in thefts of bins and ability of the system to prevent locals knocking up their own.
That's no Oyster card. Or is it?
The robo-bins have an RFID reader in the lid, and will only open when presented with some ID. The quantity of rubbish is then used to calculate the customer's bill, but things going into the recycling pile are free - so the scheme drives recycling. The bins also know how much rubbish has been dumped, so they use their embedded phone to call up a truck over Vodafone's GPRS network when they're full, reducing the distance trucks have to drive.
Vodafone and waste-management specialist Mic-O-Data, who implemented the system, are highlighting the carbon savings and green credentials, but the council is more interested in the reduced theft, and the ability to avoid having to empty unofficial bins which were proliferating across the city.
Theft is down by more than 70 per cent, apparently, locals having previously been nicking each other's bins with gay abandon, and the reduction has saved the council some serious money. Last year the council announced the chipped bins had helped it remove 3,500 containers from circulation, and billed 640 houses for the additional waste receptacles they were illegally using.
That's not quite so green, but it's an equally-good reason to tag 'n' lock bins. Charging people by the weight of rubbish they produce is an obvious step, and the only one which will make customers demand reductions in packaging. Connecting those bins to a cellular network might be too much for the UK Wheeliebin – but more intelligent rubbish containers are almost inevitable, no matter how the cost savings are achieved. ®
Won't this lead to a big increase in fly tipping, backyard burning etc etc?
As for 'reducing packaging', that falls into the same bin as 'reducing lorry miles'; all concerned have teams of people already working on that. Believe it or not, encasing stuff in packaging (and sending lorries down the road) costs surprising amounts of money, so companies who do such things already have a substantial interest in reducing both.
It might work in NL,
but I bet that in Britain it would just increase the amount of crap that is dumped in the countryside.
At the moment we have rules that prevent you borrowing a friend's trailer or van to take your washing machine, old mattresses, etc to the tip. As a result people dump it in the countryside - either directly, or by kidding themselves that the man-in-a-van who charges them a tenner will actually dispose of it properly. Builders who are supposed to be deterred by these rules could just buy a cheap knackered estate car for the very purpose of taking stuff to the dump.
Needless to say, it costs the council a hell of a lot more to collect this crap from woodlands, fields and verges, and in the meantime it spoils the environment for all of us. Any pilot scheme had better monitor the change in fly-tipping behaviour before any decision is made about introducing this sort of system.
This is typical of a not-joined-up thought process. Make people pay for disposal and they will fly tip somewhere.
Pay people for recycling (e.g. deposit on bottles, etc) and they will put in an effort. If they won't because "its only £1" then some down-and-out will. Either way you get a cleaner country.