A Cambridgeshire council tests solar-powered bins

Image caption Mike Pitt: "When the rubbish gets to a suitable level the bin will start crushing it down"

Solar-powered rubbish crunching litter bins are being tested by a Cambridgeshire council.

The units are much more expensive than standard bins but take eight times the amount of rubbish.

"They also encourage recycling with separate compartments," explained Councillor Mike Pitt.

Cambridge City Council is one of the first authorities in England to try out the bins, which have been installed in the city's East Chesterton district.

Mr Pitt is the executive councillor for environmental and waste services. He hopes the bins will prove their worth during the summer months in particular.

"Think about the hot spots in the summer. If we had these bins they could be able to take more litter and deal with the extra capacity on those days," he said.

At just over £3,000 per bin, instead of £1,000 for a traditional street bin, the council trial is intended to see if the increased capacity is worth the money.

Solar panels

The bins have a built-in solar-powered compactor, which allows them to take much more waste than similar sized street bins.

"That's 800 litres as opposed to 100 litres on the normal bins," said Mr Pitt.

"That would allow us to use it in areas where there's a lot of rubbish disposed of, and reduce the frequency of collections in some other places."

The solar panels can absorb sunlight even on overcast days.

The BigBelly bins have been installed in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland, and in 2007 were tested by Torbay Council.

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