Liverpool to become first UK city to install underground super-bins: what do they look like? how do they work?

The 140 subterranean smart bins are a radical solution to the city’s litter problem.

Liverpool is set to be fitted out with a £1.5 million network of subterranean super-bins to help combat the city’s refuse problem.

The announcement comes just days after a survey by Keep Britain Tidy revealed the region’s litter and graffiti issues were three times the national average.

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Liverpool City Council’s proposed scheme would see the underground smart bins placed in 140 locations - starting at the end of the summer.

The massive receptacles would replace temporary communal bins and target 27,000 terraced households, in hundreds of inner-city streets, which do not have the space to use a wheelie bin.

What an underground bin system looks like from the street.

The age-old problem of ripped black bin bags in these areas can lead to issues with rats, flies and smells.

A huge amount of council time and money is spent responding to littering complaints each year, with the local authority spending £9.5m on cleaning up litter annually.

What’s been said

Joanne Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, said: “These subterranean super-bins are going to make a huge difference to the quality of life for thousands of families across huge swathes of our inner-city neighbourhoods.

“We need to consult with communities on the locations but when installed these bins will have both an immediate and dramatic impact on the cleanliness of our streets and will save the council a huge amount of time and money for many years to come.

“They are an environmental and economic win-win.”

Liverpool City Council spend £9.5m annually on cleaning up after litter complaints.

How do the underground bins work?

The super-bins come in a variety of sizes, the biggest being able to take up to 5,000 litres of waste, the equivalent to a week’s worth of refuse for 20 houses.

A sensor notifies the council when a bin is full and a specialist lorry is sent to lift the container out of the ground with a hoist and empty it.

It is estimated the emptying and re-installation process will take less than 10 minutes.

The bins will be fully accessible to those with limited strength, or mobility, some operated with foot pedals, others with ground-level mechanisms. No bins will be operated by hand.

When will the super-bin scheme happen?

A recommendation to begin consultations on introducing underground bins in several wards of the city will go to the council’s Cabinet next Friday, 24 June.

If the report is approved, the council will then consult with local communities before installing the bins.

The first phase of the super-bins would be installed at the end of summer.

Some locations may require experimental traffic orders to ensure ease of access for residents and a further consultation exercise would be held.

Liverpool’s litter problem

A recent assessment of 300 sites across the city found that Liverpool’s litter and graffiti issues were three times the national average.

The council has launched a partnership with Keep Britain Tidy to reduce those levels and help clean up the city.

Black bin bag waste has been identified as one of the key contributory factors to the problem.

The super-bin scheme addresses that issue and dovetails with the city council’s £15m alleyways programme which has seen hundreds of acres of inner city land, formerly used as dumping grounds, reclaimed by residents.