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Solar powered bins have an appetite for rubbish

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has recently trialled large compressing solar powered bins to reduce litter at popular visitor sites.

As part of a wide range of initiatives to tackle the ongoing problem of littering within the National Park; the Park Authority has recently trialled the use of solar powered bins called Bigbelly bins in three key visitor locations.

Three bins were placed at the popular visitor sites in Balmaha, Luss and the Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway at the beginning of September for a four week trial. The Land Operations team from the Park monitored their usage and were responsible for emptying them.  The sites were chosen because they experience a high number of visitors and because they are areas where the Park Authority has responsibility for managing waste unlike many other areas of the Park where litter and waste management falls within the local council remit or to private landowners.

Bigbelly bins use solar power to compact litter meaning they can hold up to eight times as much waste as ordinary bins.  The units also sent text and email alerts to staff to let them know when they were nearing capacity giving the team advance warning so they could schedule maintenance visits before they are completely full.   Although the bins do not reduce the amount of waste collected; they do compact it which means more material can be stored and the bins need emptying less frequently.  This gave staff more time to focus on other essential tasks and reduced the amount of vehicle journeys to the sites.

Jaki Carnegie, Director of Corporate Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said:  “No one likes to see litter and but sadly it is an ongoing issue within the Park. We are currently exploring a range of innovative solutions to deal with the problem on sites that we manage.

“The results of this trial will feed into a wider approach we are developing, working together with partnership organisations, landowners and local authorities to reduce the amount of waste generated across the whole of the Park, make best use of resources and help the public to make better choices when it comes to disposing of their waste in such a special place.”

The trial has now been completed and the Land Operations team reported an 88% reduction in bin collections at the test sites, meaning less fuel was consumed by Park vehicles.  Fewer black bin bags were also sent to landfill during the period, with the team recording 190 less bags being used.

Staff will now further analyse the outcome of the pilot to see whether the bins are a cost effective tool in tackling waste within sites managed by the Park Authority.  As each area of the Park is unique and has different needs, a range of options will be explored to understand the best way to deal with the issue.

The ‘Respect Your Park’ campaign is part of the approach to reduce litter in the National Park.  The aim of the campaign is to encourage people to enjoy the National Park responsibly and as well as information provided by National Park Rangers about issues including noise and waste disposal.  Rangers take this proactive approach by talking to people face to face, encouraging them to do the right thing and bag up their litter and take it home with them if there are no bins or bins are full.

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