A new study by the waste management company Biffa has found a significant rise in the number of rough sleepers found in commercial bins.  Between April and December last year, Biffa employees had 109 near misses with people sleeping either in or near bins, although the Guardian caveat that this number relies on internal reporting and in reality could be much higher.  Seven people are also know to have died in related accidents in the five years between 2013 and 2018.  The report also showed that the practice is now common throughout the year, instead of just being confined to the winter months.

As shelters and hostels have struggled to keep up with the rising number of homeless people in the UK, more people on the street are being forced to take shelter in potentially life threatening places.  The Independent reports that waste companies and homeless charities are jointly calling for a new nationally agreed approach to deal with the issue.   

To avoid any potential accidents, Biffa is trialing a new “human detection technology,” which can identify rough sleepers in commercial bins.  Although a welcome intervention, this is only treating the symptoms of the issue and not the root cause, which lies outside of the control of waste collection companies.  In response to the report, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that the government “have committed to ending rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.”

More information on the Biffa report can be found here.