Are Solar Powered Bins Really What We Need?

February 19, 2021 2:05 PM
By Kate Clegg
Kate Clegg (Littleborough Lakeside Liberal Democrats)In July 2019 Rochdale Council declared a climate emergency, a move proposed by my colleagues Councillors Andy Kelly and Dave Bamford. Since then there has been little in the way of practical action towards the agreed goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. That was until a few days ago - when two brand new solar powered, compacting bins appeared near Hollingworth Lake.

Whilst I do accept that COVID may well have disrupted plans, it is quite disappointing that the bins seem to be the only visible action that has been taken so far on the climate emergency.

Clearly, any action is very welcome - but at a monthly rent of £130, this does seem quite an expensive solution to a problem I am not quite able to put my finger on. When all is said and done - they are just bins. Would the money not be better spent maintaining or improving the Ranger service - or perhaps more frequent litter picking activity around the lake?

Whilst the new bins are solar powered - and so carbon neutral - I think it is fair to say that regular bins are as well. On one hand the bins capability to compact waste and increase capacity is a good thing - but it also means that you will be left with a solid block of mixed waste, which unless pulled apart and sorted by hand can't be recycled. It will just go into landfill.

Earlier I mentioned that little action has been taken on the climate emergency since 2019. However, the council has been very active in that time pushing forward plans to build hundreds of non-carbon neutral, non-energy efficient luxury homes at a number of sites around Littleborough and Smithybridge. I am not certain that a couple of solar powered bins are an adequate counterweight to the highly ambitious building plans - as technically advanced as they may be.

I have read the Council's press briefing and understand that the bins will be operating by the lake for another month - assuming they don't break down or get vandalised - after which they will be moved to Milkstone & Deeplish for a further five weeks.

My colleague in Milkstone & Deeplish, Hassan Ansari, is currently campaigning to get some basic maintenance completed on the dilapidated and sometimes dangerous pavements in the ward. He had no immediate comments on the arrival of solar powered bins. You can sign his Save our Pavements petition here.