Underground bottle banks Utrecht, the Netherlands

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The nearest bottle bank is five minutes by bike but fifteen minutes with a pram, says Conor O’Toole, who lives on Mountjoy Square.

It’s only open six hours a day, too, he says. “Like it’s fine for me as I’m self-employed and work from home.” But for others, it can mean recycling is a challenge.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Mountjoy Street is one of the city’s litter “blackspots”, according to Irish Business Against Litter.

“Maybe there’s not enough of them,” says independent Councillor Christy Burke. It might help stem illegal dumping to have more, he says.

Well, Dublin city councillors on the Central Area Committee recently voted to pilot a project that could make it easier for those living in Mountjoy Square to recycle: an underground bottle bank.

The underground bottle bank works by having a waste bin above ground, sitting upon a grid, that acts like a gulley for bottles to go into a tank beneath, thereby reducing the noise of breaking bottles.


Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe says he has argued for better recycling facilities in the north inner-city for years.

He is enthused that his motion for the underground bottle bank passed. “They’re much tidier and much quieter than the conventional bottle banks that are above ground,” he says.

Finding suitable places to put overground bottle banks has become harder and harder, says Cuffe. “We try to keep them 100 metres away from homes and the trucks lift the bottle banks quite high so if there are trees nearby or overhead wires it can be a difficulty.”

Residents face a long journey to their nearest bottle bank in some parts of the city, including those who live at Mountjoy Square.

Their nearest ones are either at North Strand, or by the fruit and vegetable markets off Capel Street. Opening hours can be limited, too: the centre on the North Strand is closed on Sundays and daily after 4pm.

O’Toole, the Mountjoy Square resident, said he used to leave bags out on the street for pick-up. “But the day kept changing and the recycling would just be left out for weeks on end.” Foxes or other animals would rip them apart and scatter the rubbish.

So, every Wednesday, he would instead pack up his recycling and drop it in at the centre on North Strand.

Rehab Ireland provide the infrastructure for bottle banks, and it would be up to them to provide the underground bottle bank on Mountjoy Square, says Cuffe.

Dublin City Council Press Office didn’t respond to queries about the infrastructure that would be needed, who would be responsible for managing it, and whether underground bottle banks might be put in elsewhere too.

Burke, the independent councillor, said he welcomed the scheme but was unsure about rolling it out elsewhere. “I was never a lover of the underground,” says Burke, “because I detest underground car parks.”

Councillor Cuffe says the funds could come from the “discretionary funds for the north inner-city” or that “it might come from our general waste management fund”.

Sean Finnan

Sean Finnan is a freelance journalist. You can reach him at sfinnan@dublininquirer.com.

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