Publicly Owned Company Rolling Out Smart Bins

Bigbelly Solar Smart Bins Crushing it in Newham, London

Newham Council in London, UK has switched to smart bin manufacturer Bigbelly’s fill-level monitoring and solar compacting bins and installed 26 smart stations.

From right to left - Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales is joined by Doug Wilkinson, Managing Director at Public Realm Services (PRS) Ltd, Cllr Murphy, portfolio holder for environment and staff from PRS to celebrate the launch of Bigbelly in Newham.

Image ©

Newham Council in London, UK has switched to smart bin manufacturer Bigbelly’s fill-level monitoring and solar compacting bins and installed 26 smart stations.

The smart bin deployment was rolled out by Public Realm Services (PRS) Ltd, a new Local Authority Trading Company wholly owned by Newham Council. 

The company said that its arm’s length relationship to the council enables it to make profit, all of which is reinvested, as well as create efficiencies throughout the supply chain.

The Bigbelly units have been installed at prominent high footfall locations, some of which are outside Tube stations in Newham, at various points along Barking Road and outside a number of schools. Using solar power compacting technology to compact the rubbish, each unit is said to be capable of holding over five times the amount found in a traditional litterbin.

The Bigbelly units also contain sensors to monitor their fill levels. As each unit reaches capacity, it triggers an email alert to the PRS office at the council’s depot on Folkestone Road, East Ham, so that staff can be sent to empty it. It allows the company to more efficiently allocate their staff to carry out other duties such as removing graffiti, litter-picking and chewing gum removal.

“This is exciting because we are using renewable energy sources to be more green,“ said Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales. “Crushing down the rubbish, and making more space means we can better use our resources, both staff and vehicles, to make the borough cleaner.”

Doug Wilkinson, Managing Director at Public Realm Services Ltd, added: “It isn’t directly about saving money, but about saving people’s time and creating the capacity to do more. In only a few weeks the impact of Bigbelly is already being felt.”

“For example, some of the bins on Barking Road were being emptied every day, even if they were only a quarter full. Now, from the data we are receiving electronically from the units, we’re staving off collections for three to four days at a time or until the bin tells us it’s full,” he continued.

Wilkinson added that the firm now knows exactly when to collect the waste, which means his team’s time can be better spent elsewhere, removing unsightly litter and fly tips.

The 26-unit installation is the beginning of a long-term strategy and expansion programme under a five-year plan that aims to educate a wide range of stakeholders including Newham residents and collection staff on the benefits of Bigbelly.

Mark Jenkins, Sales Director at Egbert Taylor Group, which distributes Bigbelly bins in the UK commented: “This isn’t about installing technology simply for technology’s sake, but about using Bigbelly as a tool to generate efficiencies and improve the urban realm by planning waste collections based on real-time and accurate data, which simply isn’t available using traditional containers. Emptying bins that aren’t full is a waste of resource, which is something that’s becoming increasingly important to councils.”

 Wilkinson concluded: “Litter is very visual. The more we can reduce the on-street presence of litter or overflowing bins, the more pleasant a place the London Borough of Newham will become to live, visit and do business. If we can also reduce the resource we’ve traditionally allocated to this in the process then that can only be a good thing for everyone within the community.”

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