Melt the hearts of hardened litter louts with a bright bin, says Steven Hastings.
Next time someone suggests you take a close look at your dustbins they might not be talking rubbish. Some have been praised for their style and made a clean sweep of Design Council awards.
Richard Waterhouse, customer service manager at Blackpool-based manufacturers Glasdon, says pinpointing what makes a good bin is difficult. "The most important thing is that it's right for the location. A smart chrome-rimmed swing-bin might be ideal for a reception area, but not for the playground. A wall-mounted bin might be right for the playground, but would cause chaos in a crowded corridor. Schools require a portfolio of litter bins for different locations."
Another important factor is ease of use. The easier it is to deposit litter the more people a bin will attract. Litter bins have a tendency to bring out the basketballer in people. For those too idle to stroll out of their way, a casual throw from a distance is the preferred option. A wide opening to the bin is sensible if you want to eliminate the unslightly scattering of debris that has missed the target.
Choosing appropriate bins also makes life easier for those having to maintain them. "1f you choose the correct capacity then it makes the difference between emptying the bin twice-daily or twice weekly," says Mr Waterhouse.
Understanding the need to draw people towards bins, companies now offer novelty options. Designed as animals, these may appeal to schools looking to brighten up playgrounds.
Even the most mundane style of bin can be made more attractive by choosing a colourful livery. In these days of corporate image many managers opt for the school colours, but Jane Wilson, a research psychologist working with Nottingham University, suggests colour can be an iportant factor in encouraging use of the bins: "Red is a beacon, it draws people to it, so that might be a good colour. Black bins look more authoritative, so that might compel people to use them. Yellow is a happy colour; that would be my choice. Yellow says: 'The world is a beautiful place, let's keep it that way'."
As well as offering cheery colours, bin manufacturers allow customisation by printing a crest or slogan on the side. Mr Waterhouse says this has two benefits. "Personalising the bins looks smart and helps to reinforce the school's identity. This can make pupils proud of their school and more likely to use the bin."
All school bins should be vandal-proof. Tough, heavy duty bins cost more but can be better value in the long term. As a general guideline, if a bin buckles under the weight of someone sitting on it, then it is unlikely to last long in the playground. A locking system may help to prevent vandalism but means more work for whoever empties the bin. Some models are weighted or "grounded" to make them difficult to move. This can be useful outside.
Some bins have their own safety features, including fire prevention systems. In these bins a metal plate in the hood is held in place by thin strips of plastic. In the event of fire the plastic melts, releasing the metal plate to fall on top of the burning litter to extinguish it.
Keith Allen is site manager at Birkdale independent secondary school in Sheffield. "The design of the bins is significant but where you situate them is more important," he says. "Sometimes what looks like an obvious place just doesn't work. It's best to watch where litter accumulates and move your bins around."
Glasdon UK, Preston New Road, Blackpool, Lancashire FY4 4UL, tel 01253 694811
Theme Bins International stand F42