Sydney’s first underground system cleans up

Sydney’s first underground system cleans up

An innovative trial of underground communal rubbish chutes is helping put an end to illegal dumping and unhygienic spills while providing a better waste experience for Darlinghurst residents.

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

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said underground waste was a space-saving solution for high density living that has significantly improved amenity and accessibility for local residents.

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

“Previously residents in this small street battled with an overcrowded bin bay that attracted dumped rubbish from non-residents and quickly became an eyesore.

“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.

“This new approach means City of Sydney staff can use hydraulic lifts to raise the bins onto the roadway for emptying. This will also enable quieter and more efficient collections.”

A bin bay was built on a traffic island in the middle of Royston Street cul-de-sac during the 1980s for apartment residents to store their wheelie bins. More bins were later added for recycling. Over time the bay became overcrowded and un-hygienic and has since attracted illegal dumping. 

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.”

Around 22 standard-size 240-litre wheelie bins in Royston Street have now been replaced with large 1,100-litre underground bins.

Three bins are available for general waste and two for recycling, with an option to change the mix depending on the amount of rubbish and recycling required. Designated recycling and general waste will lead to the underground bins.

For media inquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Claire Thompson, phone 9265 9582 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Elaine Kelly on  9265 9201 or email