Litter plan boosted by solar bin success

Published: Friday 28 July 2023

this photo shows a solar bin in the James Hamilton Heritage Park, East Kilbride.

Littering is an issue that affects us all. 

During the longer, lighter - and sometimes warmer - summer months, the impact of litter on our streets, parks, neighbourhoods and open spaces can be at its most significant. 

It is a serious form of anti-social behaviour that can lead to a range of issues from poor mental health to serious injury. 

South Lanarkshire Council is working with communities to make sure that no one has an excuse to drop litter in the first place. 

This includes the purchase of six 'smart' solar bins which were successfully trialled over a year in James Hamilton Heritage Park, East Kilbride. 

As well as collecting litter of all types, including dog waste, the bins - which are powered entirely by solar energy - are designed to:

  • Compact waste to significantly increase capacity 
  • Send a signal when the bin is nearly full 
  • Collect data on the use and volumes of waste deposited 

With the bins only being emptied when needed, journeys by grounds staff to and from their locations are reduced by around half - from daily, to roughly three times a week. 

In turn, fewer plastic bin liners are needed - further supporting the aim of reducing single-use plastic items – and carbon emissions will also be reduced thanks to fewer journeys to empty the bins. 

Both will play a part in the council’s commitment to reaching Net Zero by 2045. 

Explained Councillor Robert Brown, Chair of the Community and Enterprise Resources Committee: “The council is determined to stamp down on this problem once and for all, and to do so by making use of increasingly 'smart' and environmentally friendly methods.

"The solar bins were tried out very successfully in East Kilbride with overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors. I am delighted that, as we promised at the beginning of the trial, we have evaluated the outcome and invested in stock of our own.

“South Lanarkshire is a fantastic and unique mix of urban and rural. As a place to live, work and visit, it offers so much. Together with the majority in our communities, we take our role in maintaining that reputation very seriously."

This photo shows a litter picker collecting dumped rubbish from the front lawns of Chatelherault country park

Councillor Davie McLachlan is Chair of the Housing and Technical Resources Committee which includes the council’s anti-social behaviour team.

He said: “To those who think that dropping a wrapper or food and drink is no big deal I would point to ongoing research by councils, charities and government which tells us that streets and open spaces strewn with litter can contribute to increased crime rates and even mental illness. 

"In extreme cases, broken glass, rusty cans, and lit cigarettes left lying around can cost people and animals their health or even their lives.

"It really is time for us all to show our streets and neighbours the respect they deserve and take pride in where we live, work and play, for all of our sakes." 

The penalty for dropping litter in Scotland is currently £80 in the form of an on-the-spot fine. Council officers have the power to issue the fines and urge anyone who is concerned about areas or issues near them to report any related anti-social behaviour issues by calling 0800 389 1105 or by completing our online form.

More information on this project, the council’s anti-litter campaign, and methods to report litter or fly-tipping issues can be found on the dedicated pages of our website.

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