The City of New York goes through 11,000 tons of trash every day along with 2,000 tons of recyclables. This is a significantly large amount of garbage, but what is even more amazing is finding way to deal with this trash efficiently. New York City is planning to use a pneumatic pipe collection system. The trash is literally sucked through a complex web of underground pipes like a vacuum. The pipes would run from city streets as well as buildings (the drop-off points) to area waste facilities. The technology itself is nothing new, and the city already has a large underground infrastructure in place to install the pipes.
A pneumatic pipe waste collection system is going to remove sanitation trucks from the roads and save the city quite a bit of money, although a lot of that money is going to go right back into maintaining the new collection system. A pneumatic pipe waste collection system is going to remove sanitation trucks from the roads and remove the workload from dumpster rental companies. The city could save a lot of money although much of that money is going to go right back to maintaining the new waste collection system. New York City spends around $1.6 billion every year on waste collection and disposal.
If the new collection system works, the underground pneumatic waste collection system is going to minimize the stench of rotting trash as well as the number of rats on city streets. City College of New York’s University of Transportation Research Center or UTRC has studied the whole idea for three years. The findings, published in a 2013 report, found the running costs of a pneumatic system is going to be 30% less compared to the current garbage collection system, even though the upfront costs of integrating the system in the city’s current infrastructure is going to be significant. The report also noted a 60% reduction in energy and more than 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with the pneumatic trash collection system.
It is already being used on Roosevelt Island. It is called Automated Vacuum Assisted Collection, or AVAC. It is a series of 20-inch wide pipes that are strategically placed all over town to gather trash. The system has been used on the island ever since the 1970s. Trash flows through the pipes at around 30 mph and eventually arrives at the sorting facility where it is compacted, placed in containers and then shipped to a transfer station. Problems emerge from time to time, and mainly jams in the pipes, but the problems are easily fixed with a little manual poking and prodding by workers with the use of a modified drain auger.
Ever since it was launched more than 40 years ago, the AVAC system has experienced very small downtime, an incident involving thousands of phone books mixed with water caused a nearly two-week shutdown several years ago, but other than that, it has been relatively smooth sailing. The aging AVAC system on Roosevelt Island is more than overdue for upgrades. For example, it cannot separate recyclables from general trash, it all gets mixed together and sent to the transfer station. The technology to separate valuable recyclables from household trash is out there, but it’s a cost-prohibitive issue at the moment for the folks on Roosevelt Island.
If New York City were to implement a pneumatic waste collection system, via Dumpsterman at: wwwcalldumpsterman.com there is no doubt it is going to be state-of-the-art and the best in the world (pneumatic trash systems are presently being used in over 30 countries). The team of researchers at UTRC estimate that an AVAC-type system can be realistically placed in Manhattan in the next 50 to 100 years. However, the team also mentioned that it wouldn’t be surprised to see testing of such a system far sooner than that, possibly this decade.
The idea that one of the world’s largest cities could essentially get rid trashcans, piles of trash and commercial dumpsters from curbsides all over the city is a really attractive undertaking. It seems viable, although it is going to take quite a bit of startup money to make it happen. It is also going to be, by far, the most expensive piping system of its type.