Recycling goes underground

Green Lifestyle

In an Australian-first, apartment residents near Kings Cross now have a more hygienic, safer bin system in their street.


Credit: Caitlin Howlett


The entire platform of the new waste system is raised up to access the underground bins.

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A trial of underground communal rubbish chutes is helping put an end to illegal dumping and providing a better waste experience for Sydney residents.

The new system, installed in Royston Street, Darlinghurst, replaces an unsightly, cluttered bin bay with new recycling and waste chutes linked to an underground storage system.

Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore, said at the launch yesterday that, “it's very exciting to come up with a new way for one of the most basic problems that we have, and that's dealing with people's waste”.

“This state-of-the-art waste system is a practical way to reduce clutter and beautify inner city streets,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We're in a situation here where we're surrounded by 12 apartment buildings, and the only way for waste to be dealt with was through incineration.”

"There's a traffic island behind me, and since the 1980s, it was a popular location to put rubbish. There was a really unsightly build-up because there was no accommodation for recycling bins… and it was really difficult to manage cockroaches and vermin such as rats.”

“Underground waste systems have been used in other cities round the world and are proven to be an effective means of managing waste in high density areas with limited bin space.”

The unique system means that around 22 standard 240-litre wheelie bins have now been replaced with five large underground bins. Up to 5,000 litres of garbage can now be managed and recycled neatly in the small space.

“As you can imagine with the 12 surrounding apartment buildings, the noise of the recycling trucks was a constant cause of uncertainty and complaint here.”

“The new system means that our staff can use hydraulic lifts, raise the bins onto the roadway to empty, and this means it will be quieter and more efficient.”

Another benefit is that the waste chutes can only be opened by using a pin, so all the residents who live here will have a pin that allows them exclusive access to their own garbage and recycling bins.

“This is a very important trial for us, we'll see how this goes, and then we'll look at this for perhaps other similar areas.”

Jarrah Hoffmann-Ekstein has lived on Royston Street for seven years and said she is delighted with how the street looks now.

“Royston Street is a pretty little cul-de-sac but for years it has effectively had a garbage dump in the middle of the street,” Ms Hoffmann-Ekstein said.

“Our bin system has been a problem since I moved here. It's a densely populated enclave and the garbage system was completely inadequate so the bins were often overflowing, smelly and popular with rats. The new underground bin system is a great initiative from the City of Sydney, it has transformed our street.”