21 December 2021

Keep missing recycling bin night in the ACT? A local nuclear physicist is here to help

| Damien Larkins
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Curbside bin on suburban Canberra street

It’s a familiar refrain across Canberra: is it recycling bin night tonight? Photo: Supplied.

Tired of forgetting what night to put out each bin on the street for collection? One Canberra scientist was so he put his mind to the problem and he’s sharing his solution with us all.

Everyone knows that horrible, sinking feeling of being woken by the garbage truck rumbling past your house when you’ve forgotten to put out the bins.

It’s an especially common problem during the holiday season when you’re off your usual routine and your bins seem to fill up much faster than normal.

Maybe you rely on your street’s ‘binfluencer’ – that one home that puts their bins out first and always seems to know if it’s recycling week or not.

Canberran nuclear physicist Dr Ed Simpson knows how you feel.

“We had been living in an apartment and didn’t have to worry about when the bins went out,” he says. “But when we moved house I just kept forgetting.”

READ ALSO To the car that parked in front of my bins: an open letter

The addition of a green bin, while good for the environment, only added to Dr Simpson’s dilemma.

“We’re the sort of people who try to reduce waste that we get,” he says. “So we don’t necessarily put the bins out every week.”

The ACT Government updates bin collection schedules for all suburbs on its open-data website.

So during one weekend, Dr Simpson created a program to make that information work for him.

“I wanted to put it in a form that was more useable so I get an alert on my phone when the bins need to be taken out,” he says.

“When the ACT Government updates the data every two weeks, the calendar should get automatically updated.”

The result is the Canberra Waste Collection Calendars site, which lists all Canberra suburbs and lets you subscribe to your local recycling and green bin nights on your Apple or Google calendar.

“I’ve been using it for a couple of months and it mostly seems to be working,” says Dr Simpson.

“If other people want to give it a go, they’re most welcome to.”

If it catches on, he’s considering making using other ACT Government data to create similar reminder systems.

So far, the Canberra bin calendar has been a success.

READ ALSO Belconnen suburbs to trial combined kitchen and garden waste collection service

“There have been occasions when I haven’t put them out because it’s raining, but I don’t think I can be blamed for forgetting,” says Dr Simpson.

It just goes to show that even a nuclear physicist can forget to put out his bins.

“I think that probably makes it more likely to be honest,” says Dr Simpson.

“We just used to forget all the time. It’s probably something everybody does.”

Subscribe to Canberra Waste Collection Calendars or contact Dr Ed Simpson on Twitter.

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Capital Retro1:40 pm 04 Jan 22

I would rather have a nuclear physicist who deals with known facts tell me than a climate scientist who relies on computer predictions.

Aaron and Laura Kambanei7:21 pm 03 Jan 22

Smart idea !! Why not if people want to use it , it’s completely up to them, we are always using our phones these days and there is apps for everything .. people have complained about this issue before ..it’s a Canberra thing to do so he did something about it .. good on you and thanks heaps?

The comments here just shock me! Actually that’s a lie, they don’t shock me they just disappoint me to going that we have people who feel the need to denigrate someone for doing something. I accept that many may not see a need for this, which is more than fine, but maybe next time just don’t comment.

Oh and for those who say we don’t need an app for this just use a repeating calendar entry. Well if you read the article and tried to comprehend rather than throw mud at Dr Simpson you would find all he has done has created repeating calendar entries. The difference though is as he links the calendar to the governments collection schedule it updates automatically. Very handy at this time of year where Christmas can radically change the collection schedule for some.

There is the nuclear physicist solution, which typically involves a lot of development time, is overcomplicated and probably prone to meltdowns.
Or there is my solution which is to get a free 2022 desk calander from IGA and mark the green bin dates.
Can the nuclear scientist solution also record birthdays?

Capital Retro2:25 pm 02 Jan 22

This must be a massive dilemma for the Greens. I mean, a nuclear physicist with Green principles?

I’m a simple man.
I put my recycling bin out (with my other bin), when it’s full.

I’m a bit worried what’s going to happen when I get that 3rd bin (and have got to sort green waste and selected food scraps) into what will become my weekly bin and the weekly bin that I currently fill, then only gets collected fortnightly …….and my current fortnightly bin….
Dr Nuclear Physicist guy I’m going to need help

ing to need help from more than a nuclear physicist!

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