The AWCS disposal bins, Source: ENVAC Scandinavia

Stockholm waste zooms through vacuum tubes

Stockholm waste zooms through vacuum tubes

The city will manage this innovative waste disposal system on its own, and it surprises us that it is not more widespread already on a European level

Did you know that Stockholm has an underground waste collection system, which uses air pressure and tubes to blast trash bags quickly and efficiently from disposal point to collection point? It’s something almost out of a sci-fi flick, and it’s called an automated waste collection system (AWCS).

ENVAC, the company behind the innovation points out that the benefits are substantial when compared to traditional waste management systems that still mostly abound in our cities. Apart from removing the eyesore of overflowing trash bins, it’s the urban environment that gets direct benefits in several ways thanks to drastically shortened and optimized garbage truck routes.

How it works

People bring their pre-sorted trash, packed in bags to the vacuum bins and dispose of them. Then, the stationary pneumatic refuse system transports the waste long distances through pipes to a collection station, where the refuse is compacted in sealed containers.

To transport the waste, the system uses air generated by fans that create negative pressure in the pipe system. The air enters the pipes at atmospheric pressure, traps the solid waste and conveys it to the collection station.

A stationary pneumatic refuse collection system can handle multiple types of waste concurrently, using one refuse chute for each separate waste stream. Typically, two to four separate waste streams are handled in the same transport pipe network.

At the collection station, each waste stream is directed to a designated container. Collecting each waste type separately prevents any risk of mixing waste and recyclables.

The air used for pushing the trash bags through the tubes is then filtered out before being released back into the atmosphere. Garbage trucks then finally come into play to service the collection station, but considering that most of their work has already been done by the power of air pressure, their routes are shortened and optimized leading to reduced noise pollution, traffic and CO2 emissions.

The Municipality to take over responsibility

ENVAC reported that the City of Stockholm has taken a keen interest in gradually taking over the management of the AWCS and start treating it as a utility service on par with water and sewage.

The municipality’s wastewater and waste management company, Stockholm Vatten och Avfall, will start to take responsibility for the systems during the coming years. This means that private housing associations, housing companies, pre-schools and commercial operators no longer need to be responsible for ownership and maintenance of AWCS installed in their property.

Aside from easing the administrative burden of managing and installing AWCS, the move means that further installations specified in the city’s detailed plan will be much more straightforward and can be managed to coincide with other major excavation works.



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