The Bigbelly arrives in Swanage to tackle growing litter

A new solution to Swanage’s bin problem is being trialled over the next four weeks, with the deployment of two Bigbelly bins on the seafront that squash the litter, making more room.

The bins, which cost £4,500 each, have a solar powered ram inside the bin which compacts the rubbish, allowing it to accommodate more litter.

Solar powered Bigbelly bin in Swanage
Bigbelly bin in Swanage

The Bigbelly, pictured in The Square, is solar powered and has a foot operated hopper that takes the rubbish

Save fuel and labour costs

The aim of the invention by the American-based company is to reduce the number of times the bin needs to be emptied, without allowing it to overflow. This means that Dorset Council can save fuel and labour costs on waste collections.

While Covid restrictions are still limiting overseas travel, more tourists than ever are visiting Swanage and this has increased the need to collect more litter. At the same time, there’s been a shortage of qualified bin lorry drivers.

Wheelie Bins on Swanage Seafront

The original and practical wheelie bins but they looked unattractive and had to be emptied by a bin lorry with a qualified HGV driver

New bins on Swanage seafront

The new smarter bins can be emptied by a van driver but aren’t seagull proof

Two barrel bins

Some of the smaller bins have been replaced with barrel bins that have a larger capacity and be emptied by a van driver. They are more seagull resistant but not entirely seagull proof

Removed the wheelie bins

This meant that in June 2021, Dorset Council removed the wheelie bins on Swanage seafront and replaced them with smaller bins, whose contents could be collected by van drivers.

While the number of smaller bins has been increased, larger barrel bins deployed and collections have been more regular, the bins have at times overflowed. This has meant that seagulls have been able to pull out the litter and it’s been scattered over the pavements and blown onto the beach.

Overflowing bin
Seagulls on bin
Full bin in Swanage

The smaller bins can get full quickly and aren’t seagull proof

New attempt to see if it could work

A Bigbelly bin was trialled in Swanage a few years ago and it wasn’t successful but it was later found to have a technical problem. Now there’s a new attempt to see if it could work.

The new Bigbelly bins have been placed in The Square near the fish and chip shops and on Shore Road near The Mowlem.

Bigbelly bin in Swanage

The Bigbelly on Shore Road by The Mowlem has so far outwitted the seagulls!

“Trial of two units for four weeks”

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said:

“We’ve been working with Swanage Town Council to provide a solution to the town’s litter issues and to prevent the gulls getting to it. If the trial is successful we will be providing more of these bins in the town.

“We’re using the Government’s Welcome Back to the High Street funding, which has been provided following the Covid pandemic.

“This is a trial of two units for four weeks, the bins cost £4,500 each, which includes all the software, reporting etc. It will reduce the cost of emptying the bins and, importantly for the town, it will reduce litter.”

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