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Cambridge City Council

New smart bins and city centre seating trialled in Cambridge for summer

News release from 26 May 2021

CAMBRIDGE City Council is trialling new seating and smart technology waste bins in the city centre this summer as it welcomes more residents and visitors back following the coronavirus pandemic.  

New wooden picnic tables, with bench seating attached, are being installed at various locations around the city centre, initially around the market square, and later in other locations – potentially including Fitzroy Street and Christ’s Lane. 

The new seating is part of moves by the council and partner organisations to help encourage people back into the city centre as lockdown restrictions are eased, and provide much needed additional seating for people eating, drinking or resting. 

In addition, a number of ‘Solar Street Bins’ are being installed in busy areas to increase capacity and save on costs associated with litter collection. The solar powered new bins automatically compact down the litter placed in them, and contain sensors to indicate when they are nearly full.  

The bins’ smart design means they can accept up to ten times more waste than a typical street bin, the frequency with which they need to be emptied can be reduced by up to 90%. The software in the bins means that only those bins needing emptying will be visited – saving on time, reducing traffic and emissions and ultimately cutting collection costs. 

Funding for the picnic tables has come from part of the £710k granted by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Growth Fund to the council and other city centre partners, including Cambridge BID, to help the city’s economic recovery. 

This funding will also be used to provide additional outdoor lighting, digital wayfinding, a mobile visitor welcome unit and more amenities for users of the city centre.  

Councillor Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre said: “I look forward to seeing people using our new bins and benches this summer and encourage people to revisit the city centre safely as we emerge from lockdown restrictions. We love to hear feedback on the trial of these new amenities from people who have used them and would welcome suggestions for where additional bins and benches could be located in the coming months. 

“I’d also ask everyone using the new picnic tables to help us keep the city centre tidy by disposing any litter that they generate responsibly – perhaps by putting it in one of the new smart bins!”  

Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID, said: “As the city opens up and residents and visitors spend more time in the city centre, these community seating areas support the local economy and encourage people to dwell more, take their time and enjoy our beautiful city.”  

If residents or visitors would like to give feedback about either the new picnic tables or the new solar-powered bins, they can email