Smart Bins

Launched: 2020

Enhancing the cleanliness of our public spaces with solar-powered, compacting bins that send alerts.

Smart bins are already used around the world and in many small towns in New Zealand, and Christchurch was the first major city in the country to trial these bins. Smartbins use renewable, solar power to compact rubbish, and can hold up to six times the volume of standard rubbish bins. Internal sensors and a computer/GPS system allows each bin to provide real-time data to a cloud-based asset management system (CLEAN software). This provides an online dashboard and also sends alerts to contractors regarding bin status. The bins are sealed and can withstand harsh weather and vandalism.

Waste collection is labour and cost intensive, and despite frequent emptying, public rubbish bins often overflow. A particular issue of overflowing rubbish at the New Brighton Whale Pool area prompted many complaints to the Christchurch City Council, and the Smart Christchurch team was asked to respond to this challenge and explore ‘smart’ solutions.

2017 Trial

A pair of Smart bins, one for rubbish and one for recycling, was installed for a six-month trial at the New Brighton Whale Pool playground in February of 2017.

The trial was a success, and the rubbish bins have been incorporated into Council’s operational service. Some of the key outcomes were:

  • Waste contractor visits reduced from 14—21 times a week to just 1—2 times a week
  • The Whale Pool area was cleaner and tidier, and negative feedback about overflowing rubbish (via calls to Council, and comments on social media) was eliminated
  • The fully enclosed bins attract fewer pests to the area – rodents and seagulls can’t get the Smart bins’ solid access flaps open, so they can’t get at the contents and scatter rubbish that litters the park and ultimately blows into the sea
  • The recycling trial demonstrated that more work is needed to get a sustainable public-waste recycling solution
  • Research by local Christchurch waste advocacy organisation Our Daily Waste showed 25 per cent of material placed in public recycling bins is contaminated. Most of this is food-contaminated items such as coffee cups, takeaway food containers, and fish and chip wrappers

The overall result of the trial was positive, with improved cleanliness, fewer complaints, reduced bin emptying and overall positive environmental impacts. Compacting bins and prompt alerts for contractors make a big difference in waste management, especially in places where usage varies widely and large volumes of rubbish are generated quickly.

Progress

100 Smart bins have now been installed at high-demand locations around the city, including Sumner and Akaroa.

Community outcomes

Resilient communities | Liveable city | Healthy environment