“Bulky refuse such as cartons will still need to be removed by porters, say, once a fortnight, and stored in the collection station ready for removal to the Refuse Depot.”

Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, Architects “Barbican Redevelopment” April 1959

When the architects were designing the Estate, we must have been a much more frugal people … but once a fortnight?

Normal refuse collections

Refuse of the sort you can put in a bag will be collected from your refuse cupboard by the cleaner. The Barbican used to use special brown paper bags, but apparently some of us used to leave wet stuff in them that leaked on the landings. Now it’s black bin liners. (But you can still have the paper bags if you want.) Collections take place every weekday morning. Refuse should only be left out on these days and before breakfast.

See-through plastic bags are used for recyclable items, and these include drink cartons, paper, cardboard, glass, tins and cans, and plastic bottles. The Barbican Estate Office would like you to rinse any of the containers.

Refuse cupboard

Each flat has a cupboard which is, in most cases, near to the front entrance door. It was designed with two doors. One door can be opened inside the flat, and the other can be opened by the porters from the corridor outside the flat, using a special key. The idea was that: ‘these two doors will facilitate trade deliveries and the occasional dry refuse collection when tenants are not at home.’

Bulky waste

There are special locations for discarding furniture and appliances. I am not going to try to give you details or contact numbers, because I expect they will change. If you are not aware of those closest to your flat, the Barbican Estate Office or the car park attendants can tell you.


The Barbican also provide a ‘food caddy’, which is a small plastic basket. You need to line it with one of the special plastic bags which come with it. You should put any coooked or uncooked food in it (except bones) for recycling. Then leave it in your refuse cupboard with the bag tied.

To give you some numbers, 27% of the waste produced by City residents is food which could have been recycled. (I feel sorry for the statistics student who got that holiday job!) Only 38% of Barbican Residents recycle their food. In fact, it turns out, those plastic bags aren’t plastic bags they are corn starch liners.

Large white goods

If you have a washing machine to get rid of, you don’t have to get some friends to help you take it out at midnight and dump it in the Golden Lane Estate any longer. You can arrange to have ‘white goods’ collected for free, but you must make advance arrangement with the Barbican Estate Office. (Their advice on the subject says that ‘washing machines and dishwashers must be emptied and dried before being removed, to ensure water does not leak during removal causing damage to floors and carpets.’ They seem to have a low opinion of Barbican residents’ common sense.

There are also various places round the estate where you can dump your white goods. For example, (at the time of writing) there’s a designated area in the lay-by off Beech Street used by removal vans and the Garchey lorry.