by Daniel Graham
An innovative underground bin system is being trialled in Darlinghurst by the City of Sydney Council. Five 1,100 litre bins have been installed under a traffic island in the middle of Royston Street, replacing an overcrowded wheelie bin bay built in the 1980s.
The Council says the move to install the new system was made to alleviate problems with overflowing waste and pest problems, the results of illegal dumping made possible by public access to the old bin bay.
“This state-of-the-art waste system is a practical way to reduce clutter and beautify inner city streets,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
“Underground waste systems have been used in other cities around the world and are proven to be an effective means of managing waste in high density areas with limited bin space.”
Two of the bins are devoted to recycling, with another three to general household waste, adjustable according to need. Residents deposit waste into chutes that they access with a PIN. The bins are raised to street level by a hydraulic lift for collection.
The high-tech system cost the Council around $80,000, and replaces 22 standard wheelie bins. There are currently no plans to roll the system out to other areas of the city.
Resident Christine Bradley is pleased the old bins are gone. “It was pretty messy, with lots of rubbish dumped around the bins,” she said. “It’s a much more pleasant outlook from your balcony or into the cul-de-sac. I think it would add value to the properties.”
The trial is part of a series of measures the Council is undertaking to tackle waste disposal issues brought on by population pressures in the city. Resident population in the Sydney local government area is expected to grow by 30 per cent over the next 15 years, and is expected to reach 246,000 by 2030.
Greens Councillor Irene Doutney warns that waste is “a growing problem, and it will grow as we pack more people into the city”.
She says the Council is providing people with ways to be more thoughtful about garbage and e-waste disposal. She is proud of her efforts to integrate a small waste system into the Council’s libraries and one stop shops, where people can safely dispose of things like light bulbs and mobile phones.
In a report released in May, the Council announced its plan to develop a system to divert 90 per cent of municipal waste from landfill to an advanced waste treatment plant. High temperature techniques will convert household and commercial waste to synthetic natural gas, to be used in the City’s planned off-grid trigeneration power systems.
Advanced waste treatment has seen success in Europe, but is yet to be trialled in Australia. Cr Doutney hopes the plan will involve other members of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, and will provide Sydney with an alternative source of gas to that produced by coal seam mining.
“In big cities waste is a huge problem, and being able to creatively use that waste to provide energy is a fantastic idea,” she says. “It’ll be really interesting to see how that trial goes.”