Will New York City Get A Subway For Garbage?
By Michael Kanellos
Read More: http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelk...y-for-garbage/
Envac, a company from Sweden, is in discussions with agencies, neighborhood groups and private developers about erecting its vacuum systems for collecting garbage in select locations around New York.
- Garbage vacuums work pretty much like those pneumatic tube systems found in “modern” buildings from the early 20th Century. You put your garbage—or recycling and/or compostables—into the appropriate receptacle. A few seconds later and, whooooosh, a trapdoor opens that drops your disposables into a set of vacuum tubes. Suddenly, your trash is literally flying along silently at 50 miles per hour—credit the awesome powers of vacuum suction –toward a date with the recycling center, a biofuel/composting center or an incinerator.
- Envac is also studying the possibility of putting networks of trash tubes under the Coney Island boardwalk, in a new development being created by a major property company, and near the Chelsea district in Manhattan. The vacuum tubes would leverage some of the infrastructure of the High Line, an urban development created from an old elevated train platform. Yes, if it goes through, pedestrians will walk underneath trash-filled tubes. “We can retrofit in dense urban areas so we don’t have to rip up the street,” said Rosina Abramson, who runs Envac’s U.S. operations.
- Why give trash the royal treatment and give it its own private transportation network? If you think about it, humans now actually cater to their garbage, not the other way around. You store your trash at home all week until Trash Day comes. Cities invest millions a year on trucks specially designed for garbage and employ armies of men and women to usher it along. With vacuum networks, trash collection gets largely automated. Most garbage trucks can be taken off the streets, eliminating traffic and noise. Receptacles overflowing with food cartons and newspapers disappear. You’re looking at the equivalent of three dumpsters in the picture. Envac needs electricity to create the suction inside of its vacuum tubes, but the diesel consumption avoided means carbon dioxide is reduced with these networks.
- “There are not odors. No spills. No vermin,” she said. “It facilitates recycling too, because you drop it in and there it goes.” It’s reliable too. Roosevelt Island was the only section in NY that enjoyed uninterrupted garbage service during the debilitating snow storms of 2010, Abramson proudly notes. A former Roosevelt Island official, Abramson joined the company after the blizzard opened her eyes to the possibilities. Envac and some developers are even studying the possibility of adding a “pay as you throw” feature to some networks.
- Will many cities be skeptical? Sure. Many will worry about breaking pipes, or being beholden to a company forever for trash services. But the next time you’re stuck behind a slow moving trash truck in traffic, or walk past a smelly mound of crud at a bus or subway stop, think about it for a moment. If you were garbage, you’d be home by now.