IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Underground waste management

Thanks to a stationary pneumatic refuse collection system, the garbage doesn’t need to be collected by trucks anymore. Instead, the garbage is transported by air through pipes, where it is compacted in sealed containers. Using a vacuum system instead of an old-fashioned refuse room or waste container does away with problems with unpleasant odours, and nobody needs to come into contact with waste bags or containers.

Stationary pneumatic refuse collection means that refuse is transported underground long distances in pipes to a collection station, where it is compacted in closed containers. A stationary pneumatic refuse collection system uses air to transport the waste. The air flow is generated by exhausters creating a negative pressure in the pipe system. The air enters the pipes at atmospheric pressure, entraps the solid waste and conveys it to the collection station.

A stationary pneumatic refuse collection system can handle multiple waste types concurrently. One refuse chute is used for each separate waste stream. Typically, two to four separate waste streams are handled in a pneumatic refuse system using the same transport pipe network. In the collection station each waste stream is directed to a designated container. By collecting each waste type separately the system safeguards that waste and recyclables are not mixed in the system.

The major objectives of a stationary pneumatic refuse collection system are:
• Collection of refuse and recyclables close to the point of origin.
• Automated transport of waste and recyclables from the deposit point to the collection station.
• Minimization of manual handling
• Minimization of environmental impact such as energy consumption, gaseous emissions littering etc.
• Reduction of waste volume through encouraging recycling.


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