Caverion is the representative for the Swedish Envac pipe-based waste collection system in Finland. The system transports waste away from residential areas using underground vacuum tubes. The environmentally friendly, clean Envac system enables waste management in residential areas to be hidden away, so there is no need for traditional bin shelters. The system also eliminates the need for bin lorries, which block driveways and are a danger to children.
The first automatic waste collection systems in the world were taken into use in the 1960s. In recent years, they have also become more common in Finland. Caverion's unit manager, Petri Pouttu, says that waste collection systems have become fashionable, particularly in new residential areas. "Bin shelters are no longer needed. These solutions can be located anywhere and they blend into the urban landscape," he says.
The waste collection system implemented by Caverion in Suurpelto, Espoo in 2010 was the first Envac system to be taken into use in Finland. At present, implementations are also underway in Jätkäsaari and Kalasatama, two new residential areas in Helsinki, Finland. The first phases of these were taken into use in 2014.
The waste collection system requires investment but the usage and maintenance costs are lower than those of traditional bin collection. "In the long run, this will lead to savings for property companies," Pouttu says. Caverion delivers Envac waste collection systems based on the life cycle model from design to installation, commissioning and maintenance. "When the system is correctly maintained, it will run like clockwork for decades," Pouttu says.
Waste collection and sorting is easy and clean
The Envac system works by providing a collection point on each property for residents to dispose of waste. This system is used to collect the four most common types of waste: recyclable paper, recyclable cardboard, general waste and organic waste. Other residential waste, such as glass, metal, large sheets of cardboard and clothes, can be recycled at a waste point in the area or in a recycling room within each housing company.
Waste collection points are normally located in the property's courtyard or garden, or in a separate indoor waste collection room. However, the collection points are entirely odour-free and can even be located in the hallways or corridors of residential buildings. This reduces the surface area required for waste management on the property. Waste is transported from the collection point along under-pressured underground tubes to a collection station. At the station, each type of waste is sent to an appropriate bin, which is emptied when it is full.
Cleaner environments, safer residential areas
Residents must familiarise themselves with the system and make an effort to use it. However, the end result is worth it. Waste sorting and recycling has been taken into consideration in new buildings, with the kitchens of residential buildings coming equipped with separate bins for each type of waste. It is easy to take waste to the collection point when it has already been sorted.
The waste collection system makes residential areas safer. Heavy bin lorry traffic is reduced to a fraction of the amount needed for traditional bin collection because waste collection is centralised – there is no need to go up everyone's driveway. This also reduces emissions in the area. The environment becomes more pleasant when there are no more overflowing bins messing up the driveway. Waste collection points are also more hygienic. Recycling and waste sorting are improved because the system can always be used. Residents will no longer have to worry about having to put waste in the wrong bin because the appropriate bin was full.
Caverion has received positive feedback about the waste collection system. "Residents are more satisfied with this than with traditional bin collection. There is always some resistance to change because this system requires people to think differently. For example, rubbish must be taken out in smaller bags than before," Pouttu says. "However, residents would not choose to go back to the old system."