Monday, April 23, 2012

A new approach to garbage collection


When I spoke at Globe 08, I was approached by a dignified Swedish gentleman who wanted to show me some pictures!

He represented a Swedish company that was installing pneumatic garbage collection systems in cities around the world. He had recently sold them to Spanish and Italian cities for application in their historic city areas, and was seeking opportunities in Vancouver and across Canada. I don't know if he sold any here, but a similar system was installed at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai.

I must confess that although I was very impressed with the product, I thought it was probably much too sophisticated for us, and not necessary since most of our streets are wide enough to accommodated garbage trucks. Also, we have unions to deal with.

However, when I visited Spain the past two summers I discovered that there is another European garbage collection system that does seem to make sense for locations like Metro Vancouver and other higher density locations. It is not a pneumatic system. Rather, it comprises above ground garbage containers connected to very large underground containers. This avoids the sight of overflowing municipal garbage cans and the need for daily garbage collection in urban areas. It also counters the need for ugly dumpsters that we find along many back lanes in Vancouver.

Travelling around the Netherlands I saw these garbage systems everywhere. I wanted to learn more about them and subsequently met Ivo Koning, the export manager for Royal Dutch Bammens, a company that manufactures and installs these systems around Europe. He told me his company is now interested in identifying opportunities in Vancouver and provided me with some information.

It seems that the collection of garbage in North America is essentially the same as 60 years ago. You put your garbage in a bag or bin and place it on the curb side every day or week or so. But bag or bin, plastic or steel, the system is pretty much the same and so are the issues that come with it: smell, hygiene, litter around the site, accessibility for humans and animals alike and collection companies that come for half-empty bins which is quite inefficient when you think about it.

His company has introduced an alternative way of deposit and collection of solid waste: The Underground Waste Container. It seems to make good sense. You store your solid waste in the best place possible: where you cannot see it and where you cannot smell it: Underground.
Since developing the system in 1995, his company has successfully installed 35,000 units throughout Europe.

Ivo told me that during a recent trip to Vancouver and other Canadian cities there was significant enthusiasm for this solution. Therefore, the company is looking to do at least two pilot projects, one in the Vancouver region and one in the Toronto region.

While I need to learn much more about the implications of introducing such a system to established or new neighbourhoods, the following is additional information on how the system works.
http://www.bammens.nl/English/index.html and here http://www.bammens.nl/English/Products/Collectors/index.html Anyone interested in partnering with Royal Dutch Bammens should write to Ivo Koning at ikoning@bammens.com. Tell him I sent you!

More information can also be obtained locally from the Netherlands Consul in Vancouver. A good contact is
Maarten-den Ouden, Maarten-den.Ouden@minbuza.nl

This system seems to make so much sense to me. I'd love to hear from someone who can either collaborate this, or let me know why it will not work in Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada!


29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are folks who are hard on their luck and those who choose to be on the streets able to climb inside looking for refundable materials and other items?

Anonymous said...

Could these work in Richmond?

Robin said...

As someone who has to live with them in Amsterdam, these underground containers are a complete disaster.

They jam up, they get too full, people just dump their garbage next to them because they can't be bothered to take it home.

We live next to a permanent rubbish heap.

Did a blog entry about our experiences this morning.

http://www.thisamsterdam.com/talesfromthecity/2012/04/naples-in-amsterdam.php

aaron said...

Could these works in other cities ??

Garbage Collectors

aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skip Glasgow said...

Both of their systems are impressive and seems that the pneumatic has a great future. Apparently, looking at Robin's page, it didn't turn out as what I expect it to be. Perhaps not ideal for residential areas?

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