One of the largest underground bin systems in the UK will be in place at the North West Cambridge Development in support of the site-wide sustainability aspirations. An estimated 450 underground bins, supplied by Portuguese-based Sotkon UK, will be located across the 150 hectare development site. 

Underground bin systems are used extensively in Europe and smaller underground bin schemes exist in the UK. The use of underground bins is an innovative waste disposal method in the UK which assists directly in reducing carbon by taking away the stop-start collection of traditional above ground wheelie bins. A traditional system on the development site might see 9000 wheelie bins being emptied on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The use of this system has produced a solution whereby 450 underground bins will service the waste produced by the 3000 homes. Furthermore, the scheme will use software that will alert the collection company to ensure collections will only take place when the bins are full, vastly reducing the collection time. The development will support the newly arriving residents with information to encourage behaviour change. 

Gavin Heaphy, Construction Director for the North West Cambridge Development said: “Building a sustainable development is imperative and the University has looked for innovative ways to deliver on this strategy. Communal underground bins across the site will encourage recycling without detracting from the streetscape. The contract with Sotkon UK to provide the underground bins is a unique method of waste collection which is designed to make life simple for residents, and importantly has been supported by the local authorities.”

In addition, around 50 underground bins will be provided for the 2,000 student accommodation rooms.

Joseph Mcmillan, Managing Director of Sotkon UK said that many aspects were considered, such as the management of waste and recycling and disposal, which will be an integral part of the North West Cambridge Development. 

Joao Martins, Executive Director of Sotkon, has played an integral part of launching this system in the UK. “Having successfully delivered many installations in Mainland Europe we are very excited to be part of the biggest single installation of an underground waste system in the UK”

Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council have developed a ground-breaking shared service collection agreement under which the City Council will empty and maintain the bins on behalf of both councils using a new and specially adapted collection vehicle.

Councillor Mick Martin and Councillor Peter Roberts, as the members responsible for Waste in both authorities, showed their support saying “We are very pleased to be involved in this innovative collection scheme and commend the University for taking this bold step to support sustainable waste management on the site. We hope that it can act as a beacon for other developers and councils to drive cutting edge schemes for the future.”

Aecom has advised the University on its sustainability strategy. 

Works on the first phase of the development have begun and completion of the residential homes will be from Spring 2016.