Hackney’s 1950s waste chutes are boarded up to eradicate £75,000 blockage bill

A blocked chute

A blocked chute - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council is blocking up entrances to the waste chutes that were built into the walls of its 1950s estates, to eradicate a £75,000 cleaning bill for unblocking 225 of them last year.

A blocked chute

A blocked chute - Credit: Archant

It’s a daily task for Hackney Homes cleaners to clear the rubbish tunnels which were built into the walls of many post-war blocks to make it convenient for residents to dispose their rubbish.

But outside contractors are called in to clear the more “seriously blocked” of the long tunnels with a long pole.

So far 94 chute entrances have been blocked off at Milton Gardens Estate in Stoke Newington, and similar work will be undertaken this year on Hoxton’s Geffyre Estate and Broadway House, near Broadway Market.

The council has been blocking off the chutes

The council has been blocking off the chutes - Credit: Archant

It is hoped that blocking off the waste tunnels will encourage more recycling on housing estates.

A council spokesman said: “Households used to produce far less rubbish as most groceries weren’t pre-packaged, milk came in reusable glass bottles, and the rubbish that was produced was generally small and light. Nowadays food is pre-packaged, homes are full of consumer electronics and gadgets - most of which are delivered in bulky cardboard packaging - and it is easier to throw a T-shirt away and buy a new one for a few pounds than repair it.”

The council hopes to buck the “worrying” downward trend in recycling nationally. Money saved from having to unblock chutes will be invested into other services like cleaning, gardening and repairs.

The new recycling bins

The new recycling bins - Credit: Archant

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The council’s recycling chief Feryal Dermici said: “Most estates were built long before recycling was available, so their 20th century facilities don’t easily enable a 21st century behaviour like recycling.

“Whilst chutes were a convenient way of disposing of small amounts of rubbish, they deter people from making the effort to recycle, and often get blocked, leading to rubbish being dumped on landings.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in recycling collected at the doorstep from houses and house conversions, but about half of our residents live on estates where there is a lot more to do to help people recycle more easily.”