The sight of public waste collectors driving up and down our streets may soon be a thing of the past, if a two pronged initiative for pneumatic waste conveyance systems (PWCS) is as successful as it is hoped it will be. The traditional method of rubbish disposal is far from perfect, especially in a country with a climate like Singapore, where the high temperatures means food and vegetable matter quickly becomes rotten, becoming a haven for rats and other vermin and pests, and creating a unpleasant environment.
PWCS is an entirely automated waste collection system, which utilises a network of underground pipes that connect each residential unit with a centralised bin unit, usually located somewhere on or near the premises. It takes less than a minute for the rubbish – put down a chute from a hopper located in your home, to be sucked at speeds of up to 80km an hour down the 50cm wide pipes before ending up in a sealed container. These containers are then collected periodically for disposal.
After some small scale trials carried at Choa Chu Kang, Clementi and Kim Keat precincts, the HDB retrofitted the system into 38 blocks at the Yuhua Estate as part of the board’s Greenprint project whose goal is to make its mature estates more green and sustainable. But it isn’t just in the public sector where this is being rolled out.
Envac, the company behind the scheme at Yuhua have installed their automated refuse collection systems (ARCS) into the private sector and different areas of public housing and facilities. At the iconic Singapore Condo, [email protected] Bay, 4000 residents enjoy the benefit of their environmentally friendly system, and as well as more than 50 other private and HDB estates, they also provide waste disposal services at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital.
The benefits of such systems are many, and wide ranging. The most obvious one is the reduction in the reliance on manpower. Apart from when the sealed units are collected, no human interaction is required. This reduces the man hours by up to 70%, and practically eliminates the need for manual labour.
The system also creates a cleaner environment which in turn enhances the ambience and improves the living conditions within the estate where it is utilised. Residents will no longer be subjected to foul odours emanating from the refuse chutes, and spills during waste collection and the subsequent issues around those are also eliminated.
There is much less requirement to wash and clean the chutes, and because decomposition of the waste is almost non-existent, the infestations of pests are massively reduced too. The system also supports and promotes the separation of waste for recycling, making it an all-round greener, more environmentally friendly system.
It is hoped that all new builds will be fitted with such systems before too long, and though retrofitting is expensive, the advantages and subsequent cost benefits also make that a viable and attractive option.
Several new launch condo developments in Singapore are also using pneumatic waste conveyance systems (PWCS)