Automated vacuum collection
An automated vacuum waste collection system, also known as pneumatic refuse collection, or automated vacuum collection (AVAC), transports waste at high speed through underground pneumatic tubes to a collection station where it is compacted and sealed in containers. When the container is full, it is transported away and emptied. The system helps facilitate separation and recycling of waste.
The process begins with the deposit of trash into intake hatches, called portholes, which may be specialized for waste, recycling, or compost. Portholes are located in public areas and on private property where the owner has opted in. The waste is then pulled through an underground pipeline by air pressure difference created by large industrial fans, in response to porthole sensors that indicate when the trash needs to be emptied and help ensure that only one kind of waste material is travelling through the pipe at a time. The pipelines converge on a central processing facility that uses automated software to direct the waste to the proper container, from there to be trucked to its final location, such as a landfill or composting plant.
The first system was created in Sweden in the 1960s, designed by the Swedish corporation Envac AB (formerly known as Centralsug AB). The first installation was in 1961 at Sollefteå Hospital. The first vacuum system for household waste, was installed in the new residential district of Ör-Hallonbergen, Sweden in 1965.
The Envac proprietary system, Envac Automated Waste Collection System, is used in more than 30 countries.
There are close to a thousand systems in operation all over the world - in China, South East Asia, Korea, the Middle East, the U.S, South and North Europe. In the U.S.A. this type of system is installed in several places but Disney World and Roosevelt Island are the most well-known.
Major cities in which the system is operating include Copenhagen, Barcelona, London, and Stockholm. Montreal is set to implement an Envac system in 2012, at a cost of $8.2 million, to service its downtown arts district.
A system is planned to be installed in the new Jätkäsaari residential neighbourhood in Helsinki, Finland. All housing cooperatives and other apartment buildings are obliged to join the network. The system envisioned for Jätkäsaari would help facilitate the separation and recycling of waste.
Each building will have a collection point with up to five wastebins or tubes, each for different types of waste and with the capacity to store several parcels of waste. The underground tube network would act in a manner similar to a packet switched telecommunication network, transporting one kind of waste at a time. Once an input bin is filled, or capacity is available, it is transferred to the central collection site combined with the same class of waste.
Similarly in Finland, a new suburban development, being built in the city of Tampere, will be home to 13,000 inhabitants, creating appriximately 5,000 jobs along the way. The suburb of Vuores will have a total of 124 collection points and 368 waste inlets. The system's daily collection capacity for dry waste, bio waste, paper and recyclable cardboard comes to a combined total of 13,000 kilos.
The MetroTaifun Automatic Waste Collection System  was selected for Vuores since it consumes only 1/3 of the energy compared to conventional pneumatic waste collection solutions, and 1/2 of the traditional garbage truck and container based collection method. When ready, the system will consist of about 400 waste inlets and 13 km of pipe work. The MetroTaifun automatic waste collection system has initially start to collect waste in the 2012.
Roosevelt Island in New York City uses an AVAC system. Currently it is the only AVAC system serving a residential complex in the United States. A system is planned for a new City Center development in Carmel, Indiana. It would service condominiums, businesses, and a hotel. The city of Montreal has also announced plans for an automated vacuum collection system for its Quartier des Spectacles entertainment district, now under construction. The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort also uses an AVAC system to remove garbage throughout the park to a centralized collection hub.
Today, AWCS are quickly increasing size. To take an example of this, the world’s largest AWCS is now being built in the vicinity of Islam’s holiest mosque (Mecca), Saudi Arabia. During the Ramadan and Hajj 600,000 kilos, or 4,500 cubic meters, of waste is generated each day, which puts a heavy demand on those responsible for collecting the waste and litter. In the MetroTaifun Automatic Waste Collection System, the waste is automatically collected from 74 waste feeding points spread out across the area and then transferred via a 20-kilometre pipe network to a central collection point, keeping all the waste collecting activities out of sight and below ground with the central collection point well away from the public areas.
- Pneumatic refuse conveying system
- Transfer station
- Waste collection vehicle
- Waste collection
- Waste collector
- Glave, James; Russell, Terrence (July 2010), Canada Sucks: Montreal's vacuum system will making taking out the trash a breeze, Wired 18 (7): 26–27.
- Chutes to suck waste from estate, BBC News, 9 December 2008, retrieved 25 November 2010
- Envacgroup: Vacuum system history, retrieved 25 November 2010
- James Glave and Terrence Russell:Montreal’s Subterranean Vacuum System Sucks Garbage Out of Sight, in Wired, June 22, 2010
- www.metrotaifun.com MariMatic Oy: Automatic Waste Collection Systems
- Heffez, Alanah (2008-09-20). "Suck It Up - Underground Trash-Vaccuuming to Replace Dump Trucks in QDS". Spacing Montreal. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- Article about the first automated vacuum collection system ever.
- History about the invention of automated vacuum collection system.