Sucking Waste Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Here is an infrastructure investment America should consider: an Envac waste disposal system. Instead of filling our streets with garbage bags and waiting for trucks to pick them up, many European cities (they invest in infrastructure that isn't for cars there) are trying out these clever underground vacuum systems. Garbage is separated into "fractions"- paper, organics, or other garbage, deposited in chutes where it is held until a computer opens the gate at the bottom of the tube and sucks a particular fraction down the pipe to a processing center. The result? "...A drastic reduction of road transportation of waste, improved hygiene and enhanced occupational health and safety standards." And better looking and smelling cities.

They start their pitch with a photo of a fancy part of New York with garbage piled high and a caption "this is the way we treat our streets today";

and then show how in Europe, where an Envac system is installed, the streets are clean.

Such systems aren't cheap. They are also not without certain contradictions, when we want people to reduce waste; it is so easy and tidy to make it just disappear like this that people might care less about how much they toss.

But in much of North America they have not even buried the electrical and telephone wiring, complaining of the cost. Perhaps some of that infrastructure money sloshing about should go to rebuilding the backbones of our cities, installing separated sewers, underground communications and power and sophisticated systems to handle our waste. That would be a legacy. Envac via thegreenworkplace
More on Garbage and Cities in TreeHugger:
'Ciudad Saludable' Garbage Managing Projects
The Garbage Game

Tags: Cities | Recycling | Urban Life