Yesterday’s architecture meets tomorrow’s waste collection solution in Spain

Project status
Completed

The client

City of León Municipality

The brief

Stunning architecture, a rich and diverse history and a 13th century cathedral lie behind León’s international reputation as a city brimming with culture and a great Spanish tourist destination.

However, with a growing transient population in addition to almost 130,000 inhabitants and a historic quarter with a large number of nightlife venues, the city required a waste solution that:

  • Did not rely on waste collection vehicles having to navigate old, narrow and winding streets, both from a safety and historical preservation perspective
  • Reduced the pressure on an old and ill-equipped urban infrastructure dating back eight centuries and that could handle the pedestrian footfall, traffic and waste output of a modern society
  • Enabled waste collection teams to efficiently and effectively collect the volume of waste generated by a 21st century city population
  • Integrated with a historical city without compromising its traditional charm and enabled the collection of a large volume of waste without disrupting the atmosphere of a popular tourist destination
     
“León is a place that is close to the hearts and minds of not just its inhabitants, but also those who take the time to visit it every year. As a result, preserving the site and retaining the features that makes León so special was extremely important to us.”

David Fernández del Río, Environmental Technician at City of León Municipality

The project

After conducting a wide-ranging survey and planning programme, which established how the system could be installed whilst preserving the area’s historical infrastructure and architecture, Envac was retrofitted into a site covering 44,000 sq. m.

A total of 315 waste inlets, 75 of which are located throughout the entire historical district of Barrio Húmedo and 240 in La Lastra, make up the installation and connect to an underground pipe network spanning 3.2km in length.

Replacing multiple daily waste collections made by a fleet of waste collection vehicles, City of León’s Envac system quickly transports waste under the streets from the inlets to the system’s waste collection station, located on the outskirts of the city, in a new neighbourhood known as La Lastra. This means that waste collection vehicles no longer even need to enter the historical centre. 

All but 111 of the inlets have collected the 2.2 tons of waste generated each day in León’s commercial and residential districts since the system became operational in 1999. The remaining 111 inlets have been installed and are currently waiting to be connected to additional buildings, which are still under construction.

In line with Envac’s commitment to ongoing development and as part of the City of León’s drive to ensure that the system is fully utilised, the municipality continually adapts the inlets to better meet user demand. Not only does this increase user engagement but it also improves the overall efficiency of the system.

 

The result

Envac’s installation in León has:

  • Provided a contemporary solution that blends seamlessly with a historical site and does not compromise the aesthetical values that continue to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the city each year
  • Removed the challenge of inaccessible bins by waste collection vehicles; waste is simply transported underground, via airflow, to the waste collection station on the outskirts of León where one single collection is made once the large container, housed in the collection station, is full
  • Reduced vehicular pressure and wear and tear on streets that are many centuries old
  • Removed the dangers associated with the movement of heavy, industrial vehicles on winding – and sometimes icy – roads
  • Made León’s streetscape cleaner, tidier and more hygienic by replacing traditional bins, which often become overfull, with Envac’s waste inlets, which never become overfull
     
“Traditional waste collection in and around streets not capable of taking the pressures of industrial vehicles was damaging León’s infrastructure, posing a risk to residents and making the process of waste collection much more difficult for our waste collection teams. Envac has provided a solution that ticks all the boxes by enabling us to have a 21st century waste collection solution in a 13th century urban infrastructure. Not only have we futureproofed our waste management strategy but we’ve also futureproofed the streets of León in the process.” 

David Fernández del Río, Environmental Technician at City of León Municipality

 

 

Basic project information
CountrySpain
CityLeón
In operation since1999
Basic system data
Type of systemStationary Vacuum System
System subtypeSVS 500
Application areaHistoric city centre, Residential area
Design capacity8 tons per day
Number of fractions2
Number of inlets80
Total metres of pipe4000
Type of wasteGeneral waste / Rest, Packaging