22 August 2019 by Lucy Pegg

Updated research to look at sleepers in bins

Waste industry experts are being asked to provide information on rough sleepers in bins, to contribute to updated research on the issue.

Contributions are being sought through a survey which has been launched jointly by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Biffa and the Open University this week.

B&M Waste have stickered bins since 2014 to warn people against sleeping in them

The questionnaire follows on from work done in 2014. It hopes to establish an updated picture of the issue – particularly as homelessness has doubled since the first investigation took place.

In the 2014 study – which was conducted with the rough sleeping service StreetLink – a fifth of the 176 respondents from the waste industry reported finding people sheltering in bins. Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that three people had died from sleeping in bins or skips during the 2017/18 financial year (see letsrecycle.com story).


Dr Toni Gladding – secretary of WISH and chair of the CIWM Health and Safety Special Interest Group – is leading the research at the Open University.

“There is anecdotal evidence to suggest this is a problem that continues to challenge the waste industry.”

Dr Toni Gladding, Open University

She said: “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest this is a problem that continues to challenge the waste industry, and we are seeking new responses from as many companies as possible so that we can investigate the scale of the issue.”

Paul Wright – group health and safety director at Biffa – said that the new research would provide “fresh insights” into the issues and challenges of preventing people from sleeping in bins.

He added: “Your input, by completing this survey, will be fundamental to helping us find new ways to prevent people sleeping in bins’.


The survey asks respondents for details of their policies regarding people sleeping in bins or other waste containers and for information on incidents that have occurred recently.

According to the survey organisers, those who sleep in bins are not always homeless. A StreetLink survey found that 11% of those found sleeping in bins were returning from night-time revelry.

Some waste management companies are already working on the issue. B&M Waste relaunched its Refuse not Refuge campaign last winter – it uses stickers on bins to warns anyone considering sleeping there of the dangers they face.

A report based upon the questionnaire will be due out in the autumn.

Related links
Issues, Risks and Prevention of People Sleeping in Waste Containers 2019 (survey)

Health & Safety Conference

21 November, Stamford Court, Leicester
Hear from expert speakers discussing the latest health and safety developments in the waste and recycling sector.


TWS has spent the last year developing the Human Detector the solution for this exact problem. The first of these detectors of human life in a waste container will be on our streets from September 2019.

Posted by Sal Rogers on August 27, 2019

To post your comment, please login or signup.

Login Sign up