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Sector unites over rough sleeping in bins

Veolia and B&M Waste Services have joined Biffa’s campaign to tackle the potentially fatal practice of people sleeping rough in refuse containers.

A People in Bins steering group has been set up with representatives of Biffa, Veolia, B&M, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Environmental Services Association and the Health and Safety Executive. Two charities involved with the homeless, Framework and Homeless Link, were also involved in the inaugural meeting in Birmingham.

More than 10 people have died in the UK during the past five years after taking shelter in containers which were emptied into waste trucks.

Biffa’s initial work with Homeless Link to encourage members of the public to alert local authorities was featured on the BBC this year.

The companies are pooling resources to share information and create industry-wide initiatives. Members are looking to expand the group and work with local authorities.

Tim Standring, Biffa’s divisional health, safety, environment and quality coach, said: “There is a wider responsibility beyond simply the waste companies – it needs a holistic approach from all sectors and stakeholders, including our customers, local authorities and the general public.” 

Veolia’s quality and health and safety projects manager Paul Thornber said: “While the waste and resource industry is trying hard to reduce and eventually eliminate these tragic events, support from other stakeholders in the duty of care chain is required and would be welcomed.”

Ann McMurrie, B&M Waste Services’ environment, quality, health and safety and compliance manager, said: “Coming together as an industry seems the sensible way forward to raise awareness of the terrible dangers of people sleeping in waste containers.”

The group will meet in the new year to agree industry-wide initiatives and seek the wider involvement of all sectors of the UK waste industry.

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