UK company designs blast-resistant paper recycling bin

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London-based company Renew has designed a paper recycling bin that is blast resistant and can convey information to passers by via an inbuilt LCD display.

Initial prototypes — tested at the Energetic Materials and Research Testing Centre in New Mexico — were made out of mild steel, but they weighed in excess of a tonne.

Kaveh Memari, chief executive officer of Renew, said: ‘We went through a number of prototype failures in 2006–2007, but by the end we achieved a square-shaped object capable of withstanding huge overpressures without relying on a terribly exotic material.’

The product now weighs 50 per cent less, after the team substituted mild steel with a high strength steel derivative. Memari said the new steel is four to five times stronger than its predecessor and only costs 10 to 20 per cent more. A glass reinforced plastic shell forms a layer on the outside of the bin and the screens are protected in double-walled aluminium housings.

Memari explained that a gel-like biodynamic armour was developed and incorporated onto some of the later prototypes to embed bomb fragments.

The bins, which cost £25,000 and have a volume of 140l, will not be able to entirely prevent casualties in the event of a bomb blast.

‘People will get hurt, but we looked at the area of morbidity and tried to reduce it by about 90 per cent. If you superimpose that on [London’s] Oxford Street, the impact is significant,’ said Memari. ‘Depending on charge size, the area of morbidity was around 3,000–4,000ft2 around the bin. We tried to reduce that to less than 10 per cent.’

Renew has already installed 25 bins in the City of London’s financial district and has plans to install up to a total of 200 bins in the area. The bins will display information on the London Underground network and the London Stock Exchange, alongside other useful information.

The company is also in talks to install the bins in New York, Japan and Singapore, each of which has different security needs.

‘Tokyo security requirements are totally different. They are interested in a live earthquake monitoring feed to be displayed on the screens in transport hubs,’ said Memari, who claims the service could provide an extra 10–15 seconds warning for commuters to seek safety.