Some rather strange-looking recycling bins were installed on the streets of the Portuguese town Vilamoura in 2011 and now the concept Pacman recycling bins has won And-Re - the design company behind the bins - the Iberian Urban Equipment Awards in the urban furniture category. And-Ré also won last year with its street-lighting system Verso.

Colourful little balls - reminiscent of their namesakes from the Pacman computer game - enliven the city space while encouraging people to recycle. The new bins took And-Ré three years of research and development, as the designers wanted to change the standard anonymous nature of street recycling bins. They seem to have succeeded, as over the time the bins have been present in Vilamoura there have been tourists and families taking photographs next to the bins as if they were a tourist attraction, and small children keep reminding their parents which bin to use.

The outer shells of the bins have been made of white composite fibre that is highly weather resistant. Different-coloured 'mouths' indicate which type of waste the bin 'eats ' - black ones are for organic waste, metal goes into bins with yellow covers, blues are for paper and greens for glass. The internal mechanism of the bins is made of high-resistance stainless steel. The ones for organic waste and metal use a container with a rotary counterweight axis reacting to the movement of the lid, and glass and paper bins feature a fixed container.

And- Ré has rather humorously described the 'invasion' of the Pacman bins: 'Perfectly round, white-skin creatures, distinguished from each other by the colour of their mouths, were multiplying, rolling down the hills, scattered in groups and joining at strategic points. Then, they opened their blue, yellow, green and black mouths, and began eating all the garbage.'

The Iberian Urban Equipment Award aims to publicly recognise the best projects and pieces of urban infrastructure. The awards are jointly organised by the Portuguese magazine Arquitecturas and the design company Larus Urban Design, based in Albergaria-a-Velha.