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How Sydney Works New Year’s Clean-up

The city is confident that the success of previous years’ clean-ups will be repeated, states a press release that fell off the back of a City of Sydney rubbish truck.

Every New Year’s Day, about 1am, a small squadron of people – perhaps the only ones in the vicinity who are sober and not kissing each other – begin to clean up the mounds of rubbish left behind by the other million or so in the council’s recently expanded domain. This is a largely invisible army, working under cover of darkness to remove all signs of the good time that was had by everyone else. How the layer of rubbish magically disappears by the time the dedicated celebrants regain consciousness is one of this city’s more enduring mysteries.

About 150 extra staff are hired for the occasion, supplementing the council’s permanent 80-strong rubbish removal sydney team.

The bulk of the clean-up is done in the 1am-9am graveyard shift, with a second “polishing” crew operating from 8am-4pm, removing the secondary layer of rubbish left by those partying extra hard. The aim is to remove most of the rubbish by dawn.

Most of the work is done manually, with assistance provided by a fleet of four large mechanical roadsweepers, one link truck, six garbage compacters, three footway sweepers and four high-pressure steam plants.

Driving a little yellow footway sweeper at 4am on New Year’s Day must rank as one of life’s more surreal experiences, but unfortunately the council places an embargo on interviews with its key cleaning personnel.

On a typical New Year’s Day, about 40 tonnes of rubbish will be collected in the city council limits, compared with seven tonnes on an average day in skip bins Adelaide. Although exact percentages are unavailable, the ratio of empty bottles, plastic cups, party poppers and novelty underwear per tonne is considerably higher than normal.

The exact tonnage is dependent on such things as the weather and even the economic climate. Sydneysiders party harder and longer in periods of financial buoyancy. Experienced rubbish removalists melbourne can measure the degree of economic optimism

by analysing the labels of sparkling wine bottles left for collection. Forecasters expect this to be a Yellowglen kind of year.

Similar but smaller operations will take place overnight in other council areas, notably Waverley Council which controls Bondi Beach. Here an added degree of difficulty is provided by the large numbers of unconscious humans littering the sand. The council did not respond to my request for details regarding correct procedure for removal of bodies.