Businesses from across the retail industry are being encouraged to sign up to a new joint initiative to tackle the potentially deadly issue of people using refuse containers for shelter, which was recently launched by the UK’s leading waste management companies.

More than 10 people have died in this country during the last five years after containers in which they’d sought shelter overnight were emptied into waste trucks. Now the UK waste industry, led by Biffa, Veolia and B&M Waste Services, has met for the first time and committed to work together in order to help save lives through increased education and co-operation.

Leading figures from the three waste management companies met in Birmingham with representatives from the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Environmental Services Association and the Health and Safety Executive for the inaugural meeting of this dedicated Industry Steering Group.

Tim Standring, Biffa’s divisional health, safety, environment and quality coach, said: “Even though we’ve increased training and awareness over the last two years and discovered more people in our bins, tragically fatalities are still occurring across our industry. But there is a wider responsibility beyond simply the waste companies – it needs a holistic approach from all sectors and stakeholders including our customers, local authorities and the general public.”

And Ann McMurrie, B&M Waste Services’ Environment, Quality, Health & Safety and Compliance Manager, added: “Coming together as an industry seems the sensible way forward to raise awareness of the terrible dangers of sleeping in waste containers. We first addressed this issue with our ‘Refuse not Refuge’ campaign which launched in 2013. We now urge other parties such as local authorities and customers to spread this message, and further reduce fatalities in the future.”

The People in Bins Steering Group has committed to meeting in the New Year to agree the details of the industry-wide initiatives and is calling on businesses from across the retail industry to get involved.