In February, we covered the arrival in London of a network of Renew Recycle Bins, equipped with LCD screens communicating information about the weather, traffic, and news. Now that dozens have been installed, they're crossing the pond. This week, clean tech company J.M. Ornstein and the Alliance for Downtown New York announced the Renew bin's upcoming New York City debut, at the intersection of Whitehall and Water Streets.
The bins are strong enough to contain the blast of a bomb placed inside, and feature two LCD screens (made to minimize energy consumption); their £30,000 (~ $47,000) price tag reflects those features. J.M. Ornstein's description of the Renew bin as "a communication pod that doubles as a convenient recycling point" makes me wonder what's wrong with a green plastic bin, without all the glamour.
That's doubly true when you factor in the environmental cost of producing LCD screens. I'm not sure how the Renew bins are powered, but I don't see why there isn't a solar panel built in; it would reduce electricity use and make the whole concept more environmentally friendly.
But perhaps adding some flash to bins in NYC and London isn't a bad idea. A 2009 study showed that having holes the right size for recyclables made bins 34% more effective. So if the Renew bins draw attention and make people think about how they recycle, it's not a bad deal.