Successful trial of new containers could help put end to ripped refuse sacks on Dublin streets

Bagbin reduces litter when ‘used properly’ but ‘challenges’ remain with wider roll-out, report finds

Plastic bin bags could become a thing of the past on Dublin’s streets following trials of a new waste receptacle designed to eliminate their use.

Bagbin, a collapsible waste container that protects refuse sacks from being ripped open by seagulls and vermin, was trialled at 86 residential and commercial locations from last October to April.

A Dublin City Council report has found the product, which can be used in areas lacking space for wheelie bin storage, “achieves the required result of reducing litter from ripped bags provided it is used properly”.

More than 80 per cent of residential users and 60 per cent of businesses who responded to a council survey question said they would prefer to keep the Bagbin than return to the use of bags only.

However, the report said there were some “challenges” associated with the product, with some residents reporting difficulties using the Bagbin, and further study required to identify the best solution for a widespread roll-out.

Legislation requiring the use of bins instead of bags came into force in 2016, but residents and businesses on more than 1,000 Dublin streets were given an exemption because their properties were unsuitable for wheelie bin storage.

However, the council remained eager to rid the streets of refuse sacks as they cause “significant litter problems” through “mishandling or interference from vermin and animals”, it said.

In 2020 it sought tenders for “innovative solutions to address the challenge” through a “more secure and reliable form of waste container”.

Owenbridge Ltd was awarded a contract to trial its Bagbin in the city centre. The bins form a cylindrical shape, with a hinged lid and no bottom when deployed. Users place the bin on the ground and put their bags inside. The waste collector lifts the bin off, collapses it and takes away the bags.

Each bin can accommodate several bags and can be used by multiple retailers, restaurants or residents. The bin is marked with the logo of the collector and users select the bin which matches with their waste collector.

While the response of users was mostly positive, with a majority saying the Bagbin improved the appearance of their streets and resulted in a reduction of litter, some, particularly household users, found the bin difficult to assemble.

One resident said the bin was “impossible” to assemble while carrying a baby in a sling and similarly could not lift a bag of rubbish and nappies into the bin while wearing the baby sling.

Two residents said the bins were “not made for women to open” while another said they were “unsuitable for elderly”.

Commercial users did not report similar operating difficulties, but some complained about the additional time required to use the bin, instead of leaving bags on the ground. Business organisation DublinTown has sought the expansion of their use, the report said.

Owenbridge managing director John Dunne said the trial had been “a great learning process”. He already had enquiries from other local authorities and was now “tooling up for production” he said.

The city council said it would consider the potential expansion of the scheme over the next six months.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times