Time to end bin blight

New ways of tackling the scourge of ‘bin blight’ that affects thousands of homeowners across the UK must be found, according to a new report by the NHBC Foundation.

As the UK increases its recycling of domestic waste, there has been a growth in the numbers of bins and recycling containers. These are often highly visible and scattered across neighbourhoods – creating an eyesore and posing a hazard to residents.

A new survey carried out by the NHBC Foundation of 325 local authorities found a huge disparity in the number of bins required in each area with nearly two thirds (212) requiring households to have four or more bins and other waste containers to collect household waste. In one area of the country, Newcastle-under-Lyme, homeowners have to contend with as many as nine bins and containers. In contrast, residents in two areas of the country are required to have just one.

The NHBC report Avoiding Rubbish Design: Providing for bin storage on new housing developments finds that while large numbers of bins affect all housing stock, insufficient attention can sometimes be given to how they are accommodated on new housing developments. Successful storage design brings about the benefits of both reducing visual impact and improving the convenience of people living in new homes.

The NHBC Foundation considers other radical solutions to the problem including underground bin storage and shared waste facilities on street corners. The report notes that particular types of housing, such as terraced houses, present a particular challenge to designers.

The report urges house-builders to consider the following eight points when designing waste collection facilities:

  • Reducing visual impact
  • Allowing adequate space for the number and size of bins and other containers
  • Ensuring convenience for use including by residents with reduced mobility
  • Ensuring that solutions are durable, low maintenance and cleanable
  • Managing odour and noise issues
  • Addressing other health and safety issues (including fire and vermin)
  • Working out arrangements for collection days
  • Minimising impact on use of pavements and streets by pedestrians and vehicles

The report provides new guidance for designers in helping to alleviate ‘bin blight’ with seven golden rules for good storage design as well as best practice examples for the UK house-building industry – particularly architects and designers. The NHBC Foundation hopes that the research will lead to model designs for bin/recycling container stores which could be adopted widely by the industry.

Neil Smith, Head of Research and Innovation, said:

“Ill-thought out waste storage creates a real challenge and it sometimes seems as if insufficient attention is given to how bins are accommodated on new housing developments.

“Designers need to find practical ways to hide numerous wheelie bins and other containers. Alternatively, the time may have come for Britain’s house-building industry to consider more radical solutions to solve the bin blight problem – such as shared facilities on street corners or underground bin storage.

“Our research has identified examples of good practice where waste and recycling storage is inconspicuous and has been integrated into developments well. We hope the findings of this research will be beneficial to the UK house-building industry and the communities they serve.”

Commenting on the report, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

“This Government is committed to tackling the scourge of ‘bin blight’. Far too many of our streets are still dominated by the ugly clutter of unsightly bins, which ruin the look of families’ homes and gardens.

“This common sense guide, backed up by revised planning rules and building regulations, will help ensure that the housing industry raises their game when building new homes.

“Families deserve a comprehensive waste and recycling service in return for the taxes they pay and as part of this they should not have to suffer bin blight in their local neighbourhood.”