There are many impacts of outdated rubbish disposal and collection upon amenity and sustainability. Municipalities maintain or outsource fleets of collection trucks, often requiring manual handling due to the nature of public bins and inner-city streets. Trucks visit activity centres daily to deal with overflowing, smelly and unsightly bins which attract vermin, and present health and safety issues. High density developments and streets are constrained in their design and amenity by the need for bin storage and waste truck access. Amenity is further reduced by periodic waste truck noise, smell, and spills, often at inconvenient times. Residential and commercial streetscapes are regularly blighted by bins being left on-street at least once a week.
In Barcelona, various projects now integrate pneumatic pipes using suction to carry waste from the point of disposal to a central processing plant, eliminating the need for most on-street bins and their collection. The suction has the benefit of allowing ongoing organic waste collection, while removing odours.
The technology has been employed in two main settings. First, in existing medium and high density areas, when ongoing street works are undertaken, the necessary pipe works are included so that the bins (which never overflow) may be located on-street. These are used by residents and businesses alike, eliminating the majority of organic and general waste collection via on-street bins and trucks. Second, in new and major redevelopment areas such as [email protected], the on-street system is integrated with waste disposal points within buildings.
The lesson from Barcelona, however, is that the technology can only be used in concert with integrated forward planning and urban design as a long term investment in public amenity and sustainability.