DON’T bother to smile – you’re not on camera after all!
Solar bins all over Portlaoise carry the warning ‘Smile, you’re on camera’ in a bid to stop people dumping household waste.
Now a senior council engineer has admitted that the bins are not fitted with cameras after all. That green light that flashes when you open the bin is just an eye-catching but meaningless special effect.
However, while it turns out that the warning signs are a load of rubbish, the solar bins are very “intelligent”, according to council officials.
The truth was revealed in reply to a question from cllr Conor Bergin at the latest Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick council meeting. District engineer Edmond Kenny confirmed that the solar bins are not fitted with cameras, despite the warning signs. He pointed out that the receptacles are “intelligent bins” that send a text to county hall when they are full, alerting staff that they need to be emptied.
Cllr James Kelly questioned the solar bins’ level of intelligence, saying that he often saw them crammed to the brim with plastic bottles sticking out of the opening shafts, which must make them difficult to empty. The shafts are so narrow that they deter wholesale dumping of household rubbish in any case, without the need for cameras, but they are often stuck with overflowing litter and bottles.
Cathaoirleach John King asked how much a solar bin costs. Director of services Donal Brennan replied: “You wouldn’t want to buy one. You’re talking about thousands of euros.”
Portlaoise received funding for the solar bins through the urban regeneration and development fund (URDF). Mr Brennan said there is a cost benefit in a large town, as the solar bins have to be emptied less often than regular bitter bins.
The comments came in response to a motion from cllr Ollie Clooney, who asked for all rubbish bins in Durrow to be replaced by solar bins. Mr Kenny replied that the URDF funding stream is closed for 2019, but an application for Durrow could be considered under future programmes.
Cllr Clooney’s proposal was seconded by cllr King, who said: “Solar bins are the way to go, because the ordinary bins are being abused and are more a nuisance than anything else.”
Mr Brennan pointed out that some Tidy Towns groups around the county have decided to get rid of ordinary bins completely, as they seem to attract more rubbish. He said: “The strange thing is that places with no bins can be much cleaner.”
Cllr Clooney agreed and said he would also like to see a motorised street sweeper in every town, as it did a brilliant job in Durrow during the Scarecrow Festival.