Solar-powered ‘clever bins’ to be installed in Male’

The Maldives is to install a series of high-tech, solar-powered ‘Clever Bins’ along the northern shoreline of Male’, the first public bins in the capital.

The bins, which were showcased on the popular UK television show Dragon’s Den, show display advertising on three sides of the contraption. The fourth side is a solar panel that charges a battery during the day, allowing the bins to illuminate the ads at night.

The bins will be situated along the shore from the area near President’s jetty to the area near the berth for the airport ferry, a strip where vessels commonly collect and deposit tourists from nearby resort islands.

The bins are already used in Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, and several cities in the UK. Advertisers include the UK’s National Health Service and Apple Inc.

Announcing the decision today, Managing Director of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, Simon Hawkins, explained that the government would only pay the costs to ship the five bins from Singapore.

“Clever Bins will receive 80 percent of the ad revenue for providing the bins and technology, while we will keep the rest and divide it between the relevant stakeholders,” he said.

“This is not a profit exercise – the Maldives has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2020, and we are receiving more visitors to Male’ than ever before. The market has also shifted in favour of Asian visitors, who seek cultural experiences – a trip to Male’ can be a highlight, but they find it very frustrating when there is nowhere to put rubbish.”

Hawkins described the bins as “robust and vandal proof” to “British hooligan” standards – “they have them in Manchester,” he noted, adding the they would be in well-lit and trafficked areas right outside Male’s main police station.

Male’ City Council will be responsible for clearing the bins and provide a staff member who will be trained in their maintenance and upkeep, with spare parts available via courier. Clever Bins had a vested interest in keeping the bins functional, Hawkins said, as their ad revenue depended on it.

The MMPRC would sign a contract this week and the bins would be delivered in six weeks, he said, adding that he believed the advertising spots would be of interest to companies keen to show off both their high tech and environmental credentials..

Director of local environmental NGO Bluepeace, Ahmed Ikram, said that even if the bins were gimmicky “we would welcome them as it will help raise awareness that littering is a problem”, and said he hoped the program would lead to bins being rolled out to the rest of Male’.

“Before the 1970s much of our rubbish was biodegradable [and] thrown onto the beach or into the sea,” he said. “Since then we have developed rapidly and acquired modern goods, but it is still ingrained in us that littering is not a problem,” he said.

Last week the Environment Protection Agency (EPA)  blamed a surge of garbage floating in Thilafushi lagoon on “impatient” trash boats, which had begun to float out into the sea, and announced its intention to investigate 10 culprits.

Minivan News recently interviewed a visiting French tourist, Mary Kivers, who had spent several days visiting Guraidhoo and observed that garbage was “everywhere”.

“It’s funny because we who live abroad think that Male’ will be an example for the world about pollution and everything, since global warming is important here. But when you see the inhabitants in the Maldives, they put anything into the sea. It was funny, on Guraidhoo one of the girls had a diaper, and I asked her where she was going. She said, ‘I am going to the bin,’ and she went and threw it in the sea.”