Cambridge University to Install Underground Recycling Bin at Largest Development 800yrs

One of the largest underground recycling bin systems in the UK is to be installed at the North West Cambridge, with around 450 underground bins, supplied by Portuguese manufacturer, Sotkon. 

One of the largest underground recycling bin systems in the UK is to be installed at the North West Cambridge, with around 450 underground bins, supplied by Portuguese manufacturer, Sotkon.

According to Cambridge University, the North West Cambridge Development is the largest single capital project that it has undertaken in its 800-year history.

The university added that the bins will be located across the 150 hectare development site, which may have required as many as 9000 traditional wheelie bins.

The use of underground bins is relatively low in the UK, but is said to assist directly in reducing carbon by taking away the stop-start collection of traditional above ground wheelie bins. However, underground bin systems are used extensively in Europe and smaller underground bin schemes exist in the UK.

Cambridge University said that the use of this system has produced a solution whereby 450 underground bins will service the waste produced by the 3000 homes.  Furthermore, the scheme will use software that will alert the collection company to ensure collections will only take place when the bins are full, vastly reducing the collection time.

The development will support the newly arriving residents with information to encourage behaviour change. 

Gavin Heaphy, construction director for the North West Cambridge Development commented: “Building a sustainable development is imperative and the University has looked for innovative ways to deliver on this strategy.  Communal underground bins across the site will encourage recycling without detracting from the streetscape.”

He added that the underground bin system supplied by Sotkon UK is designed to make life simple for residents, and importantly has been supported by the local authorities.

In addition, around 50 underground bins will be provided for the 2000 student accommodation rooms.

Joseph Mcmillan, managing director of Sotkon UK said that many aspects were considered, such as the management of waste and recycling and disposal, which will be an integral part of the North West Cambridge Development.

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council has developed a shared service collection agreement under which the City Council will empty and maintain the bins on behalf of both councils using a new and specially adapted refuse collection vehicle.

The University was advised on its sustainability strategy by architecture, design, engineering, and construction services provider, AECOM (NYSE: ACM).

Works on the first phase of the development have begun and completion of the residential homes will be from spring 2016.

The masterplan includes 3000 homes (50% ‘key worker’ housing, available for qualifying University and Colleges employees), 2000 post-graduate student spaces, 100,000 m2 of research space, a local centre and community facilities including a primary school, nursery, doctors’ surgery, supermarket and retail units, as well as all of the site-infrastructure and landscaping for the scheme.

The development has been designed as an extension to the city, with an urban rather than suburban grain and will be of the highest design quality as well as being an exemplar of sustainable living.


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