Lack of public toilets is putting public health at risk
In a public service announcement, we never thought we’d have to make, the public is urged not to use litter bins as toilets.
But it’s something a waste collection and recycling company is tackling head-on because of the public health risks involved – especially to put-upon refuse collectors.
Divert.co.uk puts the majority of the blame on drunken late-night revellers, but also partially on the lack of public toilets in town and city centres all over the country.
“Public urination is a scourge that ruins many a Friday and Saturday night out, but also the Saturday and Sunday mornings of the people who have to clear it up,” says Divert.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall.
“We estimate that 1 in 4 bins has pee on or in it come Sunday morning”
“This needs a two-way fix – more public loos for nights out, and a change in people’s behaviour.”
The Pee Problem
On any given weekend night, town centres are filled with well-lubricated revellers, looking for any one of three or more things: something to eat, a taxi or bus home, and a toilet.
We’ve no opinion on the taxi or the food (except, of course, to recycle your food waste correctly), but it’s the toilets that crank our gears.
Stuck for somewhere to empty their bladders, the average drunk will instead use anything or anywhere they deem appropriate.
This, unfortunately, means, shop doorways, alleyways, or – increasingly – bins.
And somebody’s got to clean it all up in the morning.
Doorways and alleyways can be hosed down of urine, vomit and faeces, but have you ever had to deal with a bin that is swishing about with human urine? You can trust us – it’s not pleasant.
It’s a hazard to public health, and most of all it is a genuine hazard for a refuse collector whose job is unpleasant enough as it is. And that’s before we mention the unbagged nappies and dog mess…
The Pee Solution
That’s why Divert wants easy, cost-effective solutions, such as those used in European cities known to be party locations.
With far fewer public toilets available due to budget squeezes, and the impracticality of keeping them open late at night where they might be misused by undesirable elements,
Amsterdam, for example (and we can now list a recent visit as a work fact-finding mission) drops portable urinals at key locations in the city centre on weekend evenings, and collects them again first thing the next morning.
It’s cheap, effective, and there’s a far lower chance of earning yourself a charge of outraging public decency and a trip to see the local magistrate.
Portable urinals in town centres are a rare sight in the UK – they were tried in some locations but were largely withdrawn for various reasons. You’re more likely to see TARDIS-like portaloos instead, which are unsightly and very unpopular with people who take pride in how their town centre looks.
And with the invention of an effective pop-up female urinal this year*, it’s possible there may be “peequality” in town centres after closing time.
But before that all happens, we need a big change in people’s behaviour on nights out. And that’s the tricky task of stopping public urination at source.
Divert.co.uk’s Mark Hall has this appeal for late night revellers: “Please don’t pee in rubbish bins, in the street, or shop doorways. You’re grown-ups, at least try to behave like one.
“As my mum used to say before a long car journey: Tie a knot in it if you have to.”