Does Cambridge's Underground Rubbish System Spell the End for Wheelie Bins

Does Cambridge's Underground Rubbish System Spell the End for Wheelie Bins

Does Cambridge’s Underground Rubbish System Spell the End for Wheelie Bins?

The University of Cambridge is set to install one of the largest underground bin systems in the UK as part of a £1 billion expansion project.

Around 450 underground bins supplied by Sotkon UK will be located across the new North West Cambridge site, which is being developed to provide:

1,500 homes for university staff

up to 1,500 private houses  

accommodation for 2,000 postgraduates

academic and research and development space

community facilities such as a primary school, community centre, health centre

a hotel

a care home

a sports centre and playing fields


Sustainability strategy

The underground waste system is part of the project’s nod towards sustainability and it features steel bin chutes set into the pavement, which feed into underground chambers. A sensor notifies the council when a chamber is full, then a lorry is sent out to collect the waste. It is believed that the system will remove the need for around 900 wheelie bins.

How the underground system will work

The Shared Waste Service for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Councils has started to collect the waste from the underground bins.

Residents are told what they can recycle and are provided with clearly labelled bins for their kitchens which match the signs on the steel bin chutes outside.

The installation of the new system means residents will no longer have to wheel their heavy bins out onto the street, or worry about when to put the correct bin out. There are no worries about having to find space to store bins now either or having the familiar wheelie bin smell around their property. One underground bin is the equivalent of 20 wheelie bins.


A new vision for waste management

The underground system is the largest of its kind in the country and is part of the university’s vision to be more sustainable and to help people to live more eco-friendly lives day to day.

This type of system is widely used throughout Europe and the university have followed advice from the local authority throughout.

South Cambridgeshire District Council said that the installation of the system was a step towards improving waste management systems, and reducing emissions by reducing the number of wheelie bins and physical waste collections that take place.