Anti-litter project goes down the tubes

City removes set of tubes designed to collect discarded takeaway cups

February 23rd, 2013 8:09 am| by admin

The City Council has removed a set of 16 cylindrical bins that since last May have been collecting disposable paper cups and cutting down on litter. 

Nicknamed the ‘test tubes’, the project was originally devised by Sandra Høj, a Copenhagen resident and anti-littering vigilante endeavouring to reduce litter in the city.

“The test was scheduled to run until the end of September 2012, but for some reason they were only removed recently,” Høj told The Copenhagen Post. “I was happy with that – the longer the run, the better.”

After growing frustrated with the amount of discarded cups around Dronning Louise’s Bridge, Høj constructed a set of cardboard tubes and attached them to rubbish cans around Nørrebro.

Høj's tubes helped to cut back on the amount of rubbish on city streets (Photo: Sandra Høj)

While the city originally removed them, officials later agreed to implement a set of aluminium tubes for several months to evaluate whether they should be rolled out permanently. The city originally planned to evaluate the programme’s success after the trial period to decide if the tubes should be adopted permanently, Høj said.

“I wrote to the city a couple of times and even submitted my own evaluation, but they have not yet made theirs,” she said.

According to Høj, the tubes had a noticeable effect on the amount of litter, and the feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I monitored the tubes closely, and from day one people got it,” she said. “When things are clean, people respond by keeping it that way, and they obviously appreciated being given the opportunity to do the right thing.”

The reaction from city workers and rubbish collectors, however, was mixed. As Høj explained, rubbish is dealt with by two different crews: those who empty trash cans, and ‘snappers’ who collect individual pieces of scattered litter.

“The ones who empty the cans got extra work emptying the tubes, so they were not happy with the experiment,” she said. “But the 'snappers' were really positive. I talked to one who said that the cup litter problem on the bridge was gone.”

Høj called the experiment "a huge success", but was realistic about the future of the project.

“Judging from the vague response I have received from the city, I am really not hopeful that the tubes will be implemented,” she explained. “One of the officials even told me that we don’t have a cup litter problem in Copenhagen.”  

Fortunately, Høj joked, the project hasn’t completely disappeared.

“When they dismounted the test tubes, they missed a few,” she said. "I'm not saying where because I believe the city is better off with them than without them."

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