London to get high-tech trash bins next year

Media Metrica plans to bring them to New York, Dubai.

By Cyrus Farivar
Published October 31, 2008 6:17PM (EDT)

In what surely would have been really useful after Halloween, a new British start-up, Media Metrica, is going to release high-tech trash bins all over London next year. The bins will be both bomb-proof (London of course, removed trash bins on the Underground following an IRA bombing in 1991, and then the rest of public bins two years later after more bombings) and will have built-in weatherproof LCD screens to display the latest news (presumably connected wirelessly to the Internet).

The bins apparently are made of steel, which reduces the impact of an explosion, by absorbing shrapnel and the heat of the explosion.

According to various British newspapers, the City of London and Media Metrica have a 15-year agreement to install 50 trash bins (each with two screens) around the city, in exchange for operating the information channel (upon which the company can likely run advertising). Otherwise, the units apparently cost  about $50,000 each -- plus, they weigh about a ton -- so they're probably not going to be in your neighborhood anytime soon.

The company, which has been testing the bins for the last five years in the New Mexico desert, also plans to bring them to other financial centers around the world, including New York and Dubai.

The Times of London also reports today that "[t]he 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."

While Londoners must be appreciative of finally having trash bins in public where they didn't before, I do wonder how green a bin with electronics attached actually will be and how that in and of itself will be recycled. The London Evening Standard reported last year that the plastic casing is made of "recycled materials," but beyond that it's not clear what exactly that means.

Over here in the US, a 5-year-old company called BigBelly Solar already makes a $4,000 solar-powered trash bin that compacts garbage once it's reached a certain level. They're currently in use outside San Diego, Greater Vancouver, and even at Fenway Park in Boston.

Still, as much as I love teched-out stuff, maybe just simple plastic bins are the way to go.

Cyrus Farivar

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