©Envac AB - A pneumatic waste collection systems

The dumpster-free city of the future

Imagine a city without collection vehicles or dumpsters, where waste is transported directly to the waste management facility.

That city already exists: more and more municipalities are switching to pneumatic waste collection systems.

Pneumatic waste collection was developed in Sweden some 50 years ago, and it’s a simple idea. Residents deposit their waste at collection points in their apartment buildings or on the street, sorting household waste and recyclables (except for glass, which is too abrasive). Once the collection points are full, the waste is automatically suctioned and transported through a network of underground pipelines. In just a few minutes, it arrives at a collection station and is then taken by truck to a recycling center or incineration plant. The air in the pipelines is then filtered before being released into the atmosphere.

Pneumatic systems offer clear advantages for residents and the environment alike. More and more cities are making the switch, putting an end to the high costs and traffic snarls of traditional, truck-based waste collection. Underground waste collection systems are also more hygienic; they optimize selective sorting while eliminating the unpleasant sight and smell of waste. To improve the system’s carbon footprint, the pneumatic mechanism can be powered by renewable energy.

Some 750 pneumatic waste collection systems are already operational around the world, in cities like Barcelona, Copenhagen and Wembley (north of London). And we’re starting to see these systems in France: the first opened in Romainville, a suburb east of Paris, in 2011. Inside the city limits, the Batignolles district’s 19,000 residents have used a pneumatic waste collection system since January 2014. And many more cities will soon begin using this eco-friendly option.

Main picture: ©Envac AB - A pneumatic waste collection systems

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