Plan to give Apple iPads to UK binmen slammed

“Town hall bosses were today accused of insulting taxpayers with plans to give binmen £400 iPad gadgets to do their rounds,” The Independent reports.

“Bury Council, facing budget cuts of £18 million, is reportedly to buy 22 of the tablet computers to mount on dashboards guiding bin wagons around the town in Greater Manchester,” The Independent reports. “The council, which will not say how much they have spent on the Apple devices, claims it will help save cash by improving collection rates, customer service standards and boost recycling.”

The Independent reports, “Critics say the same job could be done with a pen and paper… Bury Council, which must make £18 million in savings over the next three years, is buying 22 of the iPads, one for each bin wagon, which if bought in shops for around £400, comes to a bill of £8,800.”

“The devices must also be mounted in bin wagon cabs and binmen will also have to be trained to use the gadgets,” The Independent reports. “The scheme is due to be presented to councillors in a report by officers but has reportedly already been rubber-stamped as going ahead… The council hope the scheme will cut the number of missed collections and reduce costly follow-up visits in trucks… The local authority is currently spending £14 million on collection, disposal and landfill charges, and this will rise to £21 million in three years’ time.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The only people slamming the plan either cannot do basic math or jealously want their own iPads. £8,800 is 0.00063 of the total £14 million budget. If the iPads have even the slightest chance of saving at least £8,800 per year by reducing followup trips and/or boosting recycling rates, then they should be deployed posthaste.



  1. Don’t forget the programming fees. That pick up route won’t be automatically on the iPad. Once it is programed properly, I see the device as being a very good investment. Much better than the torn sheet and broken lead that leads to more missed stops. Plus, if the program can have push, the rounds can be altered as needed without sending more trucks or lost time on the radios.

  2. £14M to £21M, a 50% increase, in three years’ time? £8K is indeed a drop in the bucket.

    However, one assumes a custom app must be developed for the iPads first. Consulting and contracting fees will easily surpass the cost of the platform hardware. £8K wouldn’t cover even two weeks of consulting work.

  3. ” If the iPads have even the slightest chance of saving at least £8,800 per year by reducing followup trips and/or boosting recycling rates, then they should be deployed posthaste.”
    MDN, please do not encourage our irresponsible councils further. “Slightest chance”? There should be no doubt at all that it’ll save the money, otherwise why do it at all.

  4. The Brits are funny when it comes to things like this. I know I grew up there. Sometimes no amount of logic will convince them that it will save them money in the long run. They will however not even flinch when taxpayers pay for multiple copies of WINDOWS that go unused year after year.

    1. ‘The Brits are funny when it comes to things like this. I know I grew up there. Sometimes no amount of logic will convince them that it will save them money in the long run.’
      That’s funny. If you read the thread about the new iPhone screen being less than 4″ or 100mm, you will find many of our American cousins decrying the metric system as being less easy to use…I kid you not. Major logic fail.

      1. There are studies that show the metric system is much less intuitive for every day use then traditional forms of measurement. Those traditional forms developed organically over time and they make sense in different ways. A foot for instance as a form of measurement makes a lot of sense, because most people have feet and can more easily approximate this measurement without a ruler. For cooking it is way easier to work with fractions of cups and teaspoons then it is to work with decimals.

        For science and math the metric system is way easier to work with. Nice round numbers in units of 10 makes it easy to do math with.

        For someone familiar with both systems 4 inches is far easier to approximate then 100mm (though 10cm would be slightly easier then 100mm). Most people don’t carry rulers around with them so being able to get a sense of something’s size can be harder with the metric system.

        I’m not saying the metric system is bad, there are just pros and cons to both and it’s not actually a logic fail. There is logic behind both arguments.

        1. As I mentioned in my other reply, imperial’s supposed benefits are limited to human-scale measurements, and disappear once you scale up to yards, never mind miles (or scale down to millimetre scale and smaller).

          Worse, there’s 3 different miles: statute/international, nautical, and US Survey. And two gallons: UK and US, which means you have to be careful when comparing miles-per-gallon fuel economy ratings between the two countries’ cars.

          And though I’m sure there are historic reasons why it’s 12″ to a foot, 16 oz to a lb, 3 ft to a yard, etc, they’re about as practical in real life today, as how many pence and shillings were in a British pound before they switched to decimal currency too.

          1. measurements are quite interesting. Once got a electronic document to work on from the States in inches and despite growing up with Imperial and into my teens I found it impossible to work with. My own experience is that I couldnt now possibly work with imperial on my computer it simply does my head in. Physically I work with both in small measurements cm and mm for measurements under about 2 inches but thereafter prefer to use inches and feet and yards and can only have an idea of how far killometres are by comparing the figure to miles and taking an estimated amount off. Strange how the brain works and adapts and some cases fails to adapt.

            As for the attitude of these mythical Brits, obviously such attitude don’t apply to those proposing it and equally similar reactions have occurred in many school districts for example in the States so probably best not to stereotype.

            Also some of greatest proponents of Apple computers especially in the bad times have been the Brits indeed I have discussed their merits with Americans who had hardly even heard of them let alone use their products in business though I would wish to extrapolate that to some mythical Yank ignorance.

  5. The real reason for the outcry is the sensible observation that the screens would become smeared with grease from fish and chips, rendering them useless

  6. This is why government is inefficient. Because government gets its money immorally– by theft– it is managed politically. So, it doesn’t matter whether this would be a smart move for them to make, it looks bad politically and so they don’t do it.

    In America, where refuse disposal is more private (though usually a government created monopoly given to a private firm) nobody would care if they gave the trashment iPads to help with navigation… people might be happy if things were better with no increase in their fees.

    Thus, in every situation, letting private businesses provide the service is a better choice. The private business doesn’t need to steal the money to operate, this is more moral. And if they are inefficient then another business will come and take provide better service and get the marketshare.

    1. You are required to buy your trash service from a government mandated monopoly supplier at a price set via negotiations between the supplier and the government. Yeah, that’s got morality written all over it. Just because privately owned companies are involved doesn’t mean the free market is at work.

  7. @Engineer “government is inefficient. Because government gets its money immorally– by theft”
    I assume by “theft” you mean by taxation? Seems to me taxation is the most efficient way for communities to fund services intended for the common good: e.g. electricity, water, sewage processing, public transport, libraries, schools, hospitals, all the things that make a place nice to live in.

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