Merseyside firm B&M Waste Services is working with homelessness charity Crisis on its campaign to highlight the dangers to homeless people of unauthorised entry into waste industry containers, while an industry-wide initiative winds down.
The ’Refuse Not Refuge’ campaign warns of the danger of death or injury from sleeping in waste containers that may be unwittingly moved for disposal with a rough sleeper inside.
Crisis is promoting the campaign at its Skylight London centre and will spread this to other Skylight centres across the country.
It is thought to be the only active industry campaign on the issue following the winding down of the Biffa-led ’People in Bins’ initiative.
B&M Waste Services marketing manager Jayne Kennedy said “Our campaign is an important step in raising awareness of the dangers that can arise from sleeping in bins. As a waste service provider, it’s obviously something that we are very aware of – but, sadly, many people are not. We want to change that and, with the help of Crisis, we’re hoping we can.”
’People in Bins’ was set up by Biffa in 2015, supported by Veolia, B&M, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), the Environmental Services Association and the Health and Safety Executive.
A series of industry meetings were scheduled in 2017 intending to take the campaign forward but they failed to materialise. Kennedy said the meetings had “stopped and lost momentum”.
The campaign was referred to in Biffa’s 2017 annual report as having involved front-end loading vehicles being fitted with CCTV cameras, driver training and checks on bins before emptying. It did not appear in Biffa’s 2018 version, and media mentions during 2017 have been minimal.
Tina Benfield, CIWM technical manager, said: “It is still there but does not have a high profile as this has become accepted good practice – since the campaign people know to bang on the side of large bins to see if anyone is there, for example.”
B&M said larger bins are dry and sheltered, and so may attract homeless people or those under the influence of alcohol or drugs in cold or wet weather.
Its staff undertake a risk assessment before any container is sited and a lockable one will be used if any risk is anticipated.
Biffa did not respond to requests for comment.
* The BBC has this week reported that an inquest has heard that a man found dead at recycling site in Houghton-le-Spring.last Christmas Eve had previously slept in a commercial waste bin when drunk. James McLaren’s body was found by police. The Sunderland inquest is due to last two more days.