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homeless man on park bench

People in and around bins

People in and around bins

People taking shelter or sleeping in or around waste containers is a serious nationwide issue that Biffa want to raise awareness of, both with our customers and with members of the public. We can all play our part in making sure others stay safe, which is why we started our People in or around bins initiative.

 'Significant increase' in homeless people sleeping in bins

Seven people, including rough sleepers and revellers, died in bins between 2013 and 2018.

emergency services at scene

To read the full article by The Independent please click here. 

What is People in and around bins?



Rise in incidents of people sleeping in or around bins between 2014 and 2019


Increase in the number of people reported to be sleeping rough between 2014 and 2017.

Biffa has recorded 740 incidents relating to people being found in and around bins in the last seven years. A report completed by The Open University and sponsored by Biffa, alongside CIWM, St Mungos and StreetLink, has shown a 14% rise in reported incidents of people sleeping in and around bins between 2014 and 2019. This is coupled with a 70% increase in the number of people reported to be sleeping rough in the same timeframe. As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease and hotel accommodation for homeless people is suspended we expect to see a rise in those seeking shelter in waste containers. People in and around bins isn't exclusively focused on the risk to the homeless, with people also being found after seeking shelter following a night out. Read the full People in Bins report.  

What resources are available?


To help reduce the number of people sleeping in and around bins, we have produced videos and posters to be displayed and shared with your employees at any offices or sites where waste containers are placed. We’d also encourage sharing any of the materials with friends and family to help promote how to identify the signs of people taking refuge in a waste container and how to report it. All of these, along with additional links to news articles and reports, are available to download on this page.

How do I identify if someone is sleeping in or around my bins?

There are a number of things to look out for including:

 lock icon in circle Broken locks 
 biffa bin in circle icon Open lids which are normally closed
 boxes in circle icon Pallets and boxes stacked to the side that could be used as a step 
 red bin bag in circle icon Dispersed waste next to or around a container

What can I do?

Prevention is always the preferred solution, making sure your bins have a working lock and are stored somewhere secure and well-lit will help to discourage people from using them for shelter.

Should you become aware of an incident at your site, or suspect someone is sleeping in your bins please contact StreetLink, or another local organisation for the homeless, so they can arrange help. Please also make your Biffa Customer Service Team aware so they can advise your local depot and driver to take extra precautions.



To watch how StreetLink works please click play on the video below.

StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them. StreetLink has received over 370,000 alerts since launch in December 2012. This includes more than 70,000 alerts in 2019 with over 13,000 confirmed instances where the rough sleeper was found and offered support as a result of the Streetlink alert. 

You can find out more about Streetlink here.


Download People in and around bins poster


Download People in and around bins poster - Welsh

Download in Welsh

Supported by 

Dixons logo

At Dixons Carphone, we fully support Biffa’s campaign to raise awareness of the recent increase in homelessness and we recognise the possible severe consequences of people sleeping in bins.  As the largest technology retailer in the UK with several hundred bins across our retail estate, we are working closely with our teams to raise awareness by communicating details of the campaign and have shared good operational practice to ensure our colleagues understand how they can support. 


simon community scotland logo

At the sharp end of their work ‘Simon Community and Streetwork’ reach, engage and support people rough sleeping in Scotland. Their street teams are out 7 days a week morning to evening helping people to find a safe place to sleep and access to the help they need.