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Not unusual to go underground

It has been four years since Envac launched in the UK after the under-ground waste system was designed into Wembley City’s 4,200-unit residential scheme in north-west London. During that time, the system has contributed to reducing carbon emissions generated by waste collection vehicles and achieved recycling rates approaching 50%.

This is an impressive feat by any standards, and demonstrates how underground vacuum waste management can play a role in meeting waste targets. More importantly, it highlights how underground vacuum waste management systems are here to stay.

The long-term view that Envac supports through its ability to ‘plug-in’ to neighbouring developments’ waste infrastructure is an appealing prospect and one that will revolutionise the waste management industry.

Envac provides a unique opportunity for developers and local authorities to improve local environments and increase efficiencies by collecting waste more often and for less cost. This is a compelling proposition and explains why the system is being adopted by urban planners, architects, developers and housing managers throughout the UK. From an end-user’s perspective, the system is cleaner, safer and more hygienic than conventional waste collection methods. The absence of unsightly bins and recycling boxes also improves the aesthetics of local environments. So where does Envac go from here?

Envac is approaching a critical stage in its UK tenure and 2011 is expected to be an important year for the company. It has just signed a contract with Skanska to install the system at Brent Council’s new Civic Centre in Wembley, which will be the UK’s first ‘outstanding’ BREEAM-rated building. It is planned to connect into Quintain Estates and Developments’ wider Wembley City Envac system.

The long-term view that Envac supports through its ability to ‘plug-in’ to neighbouring developments’ waste infrastructure is an appealing prospect and one that will revolutionise the waste management industry. More importantly, it is likely to generate significant economies of scale as it becomes more commonplace.

The system has also been chosen for the Surrey Canal Triangle site in south London, known as London’s Sporting Village, which will see waste collected using Envac’s underground network being used to generate heat and power in conjunction with SELCHP, the neighbouring Deptford power plant.

Brent Council’s Civic Centre is an impressive 40,000sq m site that will cater for more than 2,000 council staff. But at 120,000sq m, it will be the Surrey Canal Triangle development that showcases Envac’s approach to managing the waste of large, densely populated environments.

The site incorporates Millwall Football Club, three parks and, on completion, it is expected to provide 2,700 homes. Furthermore, partnering with SELCHP to generate fuel from waste could help to provide a sustainable loop.

The regeneration of Brent Cross Cricklewood, which will see the development of 7,500 homes, schools and community facilities, has also featured Envac as the proposed waste strategy in the recently granted planning permission. Initial research suggests that 40% of household and 60% of commercial waste will be recycled as a result.

Similarly, the system also looks set to be incorporated into Elephant & Castle’s 70-acre regeneration programme. If accepted, Envac will manage the waste of 5,300 new homes and play an integral role in one of the largest regeneration programmes ever seen in Europe. As with all contemporary regeneration projects, the proposed development has an ambitious and wide-reaching sustainability strategy and Envac would be one of its key components.

The waste management landscape is changing. If contemporary approaches to waste management continue to be embraced by local authorities, the days of the humble dustcart could be coming to an end.
Julian Gaylor is managing director of Envac UK

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