Press Statement
22 August 2019

New collaborative research looks again at issue of people sleeping in bins as homeless figures rise

Biffa, the Open University (OU) and CIWM, the professional body for the resources and waste sector, are looking again at the issue of people sheltering and sleeping in bins.

CIWM first partnered with waste and recycling company Biffa and the rough sleeping service StreetLink in 2014 to investigate, for the first time, the issues, risks and prevention of people sleeping in waste containers. In a survey conducted at the time for the Research into issues, risks and prevention of people sleeping in waste containers study, a fifth of the 176 waste industry professionals who responded to the questionnaire reported finding people sheltering in bins. 

 Five years on, with homelessness estimated to have doubled since 2014 and a number of high profile cases of people sleeping in bins after a night out, Biffa is leading the new research in this area, assisted by the Open University and CIWM.  To get an accurate understanding of the current scale of the problem, the team is seeking feedback from waste industry professionals in a survey launched this week and are urging the sector to get engaged. 

Dr Toni Gladding, Secretary of the WISH (Waste Industry Safety & Health) Forum and Chair of CIWM’s Health and Safety Special Interest Group, who is leading the research at the OU, explains: “There is anecdotal evidence to suggest this is a problem that continues to challenge the waste industry, and we are seeking new responses from as many companies as possible so that we can investigate the true scale of the issue.”

 Paul Wright, Group Health and Safety Director at Biffa, adds: “Undertaking this new research will provide fresh insights into the issues and challenges associated with people sleeping in waste containers. By completing this survey, industry professionals will play a fundamental part in helping us find new ways to prevent people sleeping in bins.”

 The survey can be found at and will be live for four weeks.  A report will be due out in the autumn.


Notes to Editors: 

1. CIWM is the leading professional body for the resource and waste management sector representing around 5,500 individuals in the UK, Ireland and overseas. Established in 1898, CIWM is a non-profit making organisation, dedicated to the promotion of professional competence amongst waste managers. CIWM seeks to raise standards for those working in and with the sector by producing best practice guidance, developing educational and training initiatives, and providing information on key waste-related issues. More information can be found at

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