A wheelie good idea for the elderly

One bright student has invented a pod on castors that can be attached to wheelie bins to aid the elderly and infirm, after her grandmother was injured putting out her weekly rubbish

When Sarah Williams' granny Ivy sprained her wrist as she put out her weekly rubbish for collection, her accident inspired the University of Derby student to create a wheelie bin to aid the elderly and infirm.

The BSc (Hons) Design Technology student has made wheeled bins easier to manoeuvre - with a moving pod. The invention could lend a helping hand with rubbish collections to her 80-year-old grandmother, fellow pensioners and people with disabilities.

Sarah conducted research that found elderly and infirm householders in the Ashbourne area were in favour of a new bin which they could put out for collection themselves - regardless of the amount of waste inside. Her idea for a moving pod for refuse bins which helps reduce the lifting weight of the bin by 60% captured the interest of Derbyshire Dales District Council, which sent her a wheelie bin to help her with her studies.

Her idea is a pod which uses castors to maximise flexibility and handling, and also features a breaking system to give the user more control over the bin while in transit. There is also a turning circle which increases the unit's moving options. The device is able to:
  • speed up the collection service as there would be more bins ready at the end of the property.
  • benefit elderly people who have praised the idea in research saying it gives them more independence to put their bins out
  • be manoeuvred in small and confined spaces such as paths and passageways.
A tailored design
The pod has been designed around the 140-litre bin which is the most popular, but can also be used on a 240-litre bin. It has been designed to be simple for the user to use and is environmentally friendly as all parts are recyclable and cost-effective. It fits to the bin with two adjustable forks under the front top lid of the bin which raises the unit by about 40 mm, to allow the base plate to slide under and snap into place under the bin. The forks can be adjusted to fit to any manufactured bin.

Williams is hoping the idea for her final year project at the university will help generate even more interest in order to help her manufacture the pod. The 21-year-old says: "Gran got injured putting out the rubbish and when the bins are full they are awkward to manoeuvre. When I carried out market research I found many elderly and disabled people struggled to move the wheelie bins especially when they were full of waste.

"I would love a local authority to pilot this idea and I was grateful to Derbyshire Dales District Council for their support giving me a bin as it helped me to develop my final model. It would be great if they could give it a trial to see how it worked on the streets."

Peter Foley, director of community services at Derbyshire Dales District Council, coments: "We were happy to supply a bin for Sarah's project and would be interested in seeing the pod and finding out how it works."
  • For more information on the pod, contact the University of Derby at pressoffice@derby.ac.uk

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