Bombproof superbin that serves and protects
Times Online 10/31/08
by Fiona Hamilton
The absence of appropriate receptacles in which to dump detritus has been a daily source of frustration for city pedestrians.
However, the security concerns that resulted in the removal of rubbish bins from busy public areas have abated with the development of the bomb-proof bin.
The new bin is designed to absorb the heat of explosives and prevent the spread of shrapnel using “blast intelligent technology”.
And in its new guise the bin will not only protect and collect, it will also keep passers-by up to date. Each will be fitted with the latest electronic technology, providing a stream of news and travel information on LCD screens.
Until now the lack of provision for waste disposal on streets, railway platforms and in other public areas has been a common complaint.
Bill Bryson, the author and president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that the shortage of litter bins had made people more inclined to throw their rubbish anywhere.
“You go to any mainline station and ask, ‘What should I do with my litter?’ and they will tell you, ‘Put it on the ground, we’ll pick it up’,” he said. “To my mind that’s a very dangerous notion to be implanting in people’s minds.”
He said that while security concerns were understandably a concern at mainline London stations such as Kings Cross, there was “increasingly a tendency to use the terror angle as an excuse not to provide bins”.
Next year, however, hundreds of high-tech bomb-resistant bins are to be placed throughout the financial district of London, where an IRA bomb was detonated in 1993, killing one man and injuring more than 40 people.
London is the first city to install the bins, which will also operate as recycling units. They have been developed by Media Metrica, a British company that is in discussions to have them placed throughout Wall Street. The company is also approaching other financial centres throughout the world, such as Dubai.
Brian James, its chief operating officer, said that the company would approach Transport for London to explore whether the bins could be placed on Tube platforms.
There are currently no bins at Underground stations because of security concerns, although some have transparent plastic litter bags.
The City removed bins during the 1980s at the height of the IRA bombings because explosive devices were regularly left inside them.
There are no litter bins along Whitehall, outside embassies or other buildings deemed to be politically sensitive. Mr James said that the units, which weigh one tonne, had been rigorously tested by being blown up in the New Mexico desert over five years.
The technology reduces the shockwave of an explosion — which usually creates devastation by destroying nearby objects such as windows — and because most of the bin is made of steel, it can contain the heat and shrapnel generated. He said that the technology “reduces the peak pressure of an explosion and extinguishes the fireball”.
The green bins will double as an information service called Renew, with large screens on each side of the device relaying the latest news.
Traders walking past on their lunch break will be able to check the latest share prices, but on their way home the screens will display travel information and other news. The authorities will also be able to use the screens to relay urgent security information.
Mr James said: “The ability to communicate directly to the financial audience, in real time like this, has never existed before.”
The units will include recycling compartments, allowing pedestrians to deposit newspapers, cans and bottles.
With 30 million tonnes of litter collected every year and more than £600 million a year spent in measures to clean up Britain, there is concern about the lack of rubbish receptacles.
Dickie Felton, a spokesman for Keep Britain Tidy, said: “We understand the security reasons why bins were removed from places such as mainline stations, but when faced with no bins people view this as a legitimate reason to drop their rubbish.”