You’ve bin done: is council paying over the odds for solar bins?

It’s looking like Croydon’s Council Tax-payers are paying over the odds – again – for a set of rubbish bins, showing once more that the borough’s procurement practices don’t seem to  work very well for the borough.

A bin outside Norwood Junction Station this morning, which had not been emptied since last week

A bin outside Norwood Junction Station this morning, which had not been emptied since last week

Stuart Collins, the Labour council’s cabinet member “for clean and green Croydon”, announced in November a trial of eight “Big Belly” bins, which are solar-powered, using the energy generated to compact the rubbish inside them to improve their waste capacity, and which even send an email the contractors when they are full.

Inside Croydon understands that the council is considering using more than 30 of the bins across the borough, and that Collins has been told by council officials that the bins cost £5,000 each to buy.

Of course, by leasing the equipment, the council won’t be paying the full purchase price, although the rental agreement will reflect the value of the kit.

But Inside Croydon has found that in the United States, where the Big Belly bins have been in use for several years, the bins are being sold for around $3,800 – which even with the pound sterling tumbling post-Brexit, is still nearly 2,000 quid per bin cheaper than Collins has been told by his officials that they cost.

“These bigger solar-powered bins allow our council contractors to do even more litter-picking and street-sweeping in the places needing it most, and I look forward to seeing the trial results in January,” Collins said six weeks ago, not long after he had been party to extending street cleaners Veolia’s contract in Croydon for another eight years and across three other south London boroughs in a deal worth £38million.

Other Katherine Street figures remain unconvinced by the solar bins.

This bin by a bus stop on South End was left in this state by contractors Veolia for more than a month before Christmas

This bin by a bus stop on South End was left in this state by contractors Veolia for more than a month

“Emptying rubbish bins ain’t rocket science,” said our source.

“It’s just another gimmick to take the public’s attention away from the fundamental problem, that Veolia are not emptying the borough’s street bins regularly or frequently enough.

“And that’s down to the money-saving contract which was negotiated by Phil Thomas and the Tories on the council five years ago, and which, with the latest set of funding cuts imposed on the council, is not going to improve any time soon.

Even smart bins are only any good if contractors get round to emptying them regularly

Even ‘smart’ bins are only any good if contractors get round to emptying them regularly

“The solar-powered bins are a nice idea, but let’s face it, they are a classic example of over-engineering. Veolia know where the bins are, they have a trucks doing the rounds to empty them.

“But clearly, that’s just not happening frequently enough, even under the terms negotiated by the Tories. Goodness knows how ‘regularly’ bins will be emptied if Veolia have the excuse that they are waiting to get an email from a few dozen of the bins.”

For the initial trial period, which the bin manufacturers may see as an opportunity to persuade Croydon to take their solar-powered bins on longer term leases or even to pruchase, the bins have been placed between East Croydon Station and the junction with Wellesley Road. Further bins will be placed on the High Street this month for a similar trial period.


  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Croydon Council, Refuse collection, Stuart Collins, Veolia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to You’ve bin done: is council paying over the odds for solar bins?

  1. How about Croydon council stop faffing with this nonsense and just put more bins out?

    Plain simple bins that don’t cost the earth. Norbury high street (London road), being in the north of the borough, is neglected with only a handful of bins, it can look like a shanty town – there’s rubbish everywhere.

    I have complained to Croydon Council umpteen times as well as my MP Steve Reed on Twitter – no response and we wonder why there is a vermin problem? Croydon council are a bunch of jokers – get more bins out and fine people for dropping litter. When I was little – I clearly remember the ‘Keep Britain tidy’ campaigns, where are they now?

    Stop being fancy and wasting our money and get back to basics. I am sick and tired of my community looking disgusting, what on earth so I pay my taxes for? Most certainly not for over-priced, solar powered self-compressing bins! For goodness sake! Plain simple bins at regular intervals that are emptied regularly – simple.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just provide two ordinary bins instead of one of these – you know it makes sense.

    Liked by 2 people

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