Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

World's first 'human detector' to protect homeless people sleeping in bins launched

Device indicates if a person has been in the container since it was last emptied

Sarah Young
Sunday 15 December 2019 16:59 GMT
Christmas themed Banksy unveiled in Birmingham to highlight homelessness

A waste management company has developed a device to help protect homeless people who seek shelter inside industrial bins.

As temperatures drop across the country, waste containers become increasingly important for rough sleepers, of which there are currently 320,000 in the UK, according to the latest research by Shelter.

While finding people sleeping inside bins is relatively rare, the rise in homelessness means that it is becoming an increasingly common situation.

Over the last 10 years, the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) forum states that 20 people have died after being accidentally thrown into trucks by rubbish collectors.

The number of deaths means that checking bins for people has become a regular occurrence for many waste disposal companies.

However, manufacturer Total Waste Solutions (TWS) has come up with a more reliable solution by creating what it claims is the world’s first “human detector”.

The device, which fits on to the outside of an industrial bin, has been designed to give workers an extra layer of protection against unwittingly emptying bins with people inside.

TWS states that the device is programmed to pick up on movement, gas, temperature and humidity, and will light up green if no one has been in the container since it was last emptied.

If the device suspects someone is or has been inside the bin, the light will turn red. The “human detector” can also be controlled using bluetooth on a smartphone or tablet.

The company adds that the data, which is saved to the device's memory for 30 days, could be passed to homeless organisations and help to identify “high risk bins” which homeless people are more likely to use.

Furthermore, a portion of the profits made from each device sold will be donated to homeless charities.

The device is currently being trialled by six companies across six UK cities.

To help raise awareness of and funds for those who do not have a permanent place to call home, The Independent has established The Homeless Fund in conjunction with the Evening Standard.

The Homeless Fund will finance desperately needed services and highlight the worst instances of homelessness globally, with money raised going to help homeless projects in London. Click here to donate.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in