Project type / City

Bergen

Bergen preserves its past whilst adopting the waste collection technology of the future

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City
Excisting area
1,200 (when completed)
3 fractions
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The client

BIR Nett AS

The brief

Bergen, known as the ‘gateway to the fjords’, is Norway’s second largest city.

Proud of its historical city center, with narrow streets and wooden buildings, Bergen has taken steps to safeguard its cultural heritage from fire. By opting for pipe-based waste collection instead of traditional bin-based collection, Bergen has become a global trailblazer.

Envac was appointed to install what will eventually become the world’s largest automated waste collection system. A demonstration of Envac’s innovative waste collection solution showcased the perfect way for Bergen to preserve its historical integrity. Reducing the risk of waste related fires by installing a closed underground waste collection system contributes to Bergen’s goal to become an international sustainability exemplar.

This decision was furthermore reinforced by BIR Nett AS’s declaration that Envac’s proposal was ‘outstanding’.

The project

Following a briefing from BIR Nett AS, which covered how waste collection needed to play a role in shaping the urban environment as opposed to simply moving waste from A to B, Envac set out to design a system that could handle 30 tons of waste per week using airflow alone and without requiring on-street presence from waste collection operatives.

Initial planning established that an underground pipe network spanning 7,500m in length would be required to effectively manage the City of Bergen’s high waste volumes. As a result, traditional bins for 30,000 households will be replaced with 1,200 waste inlets that capture the waste of three waste streams including residual waste, paper and plastics. As of 2018, 6,000 households are already connected to Envac’s system in Bergen’s city center.

Working closely with BIR Nett AS, Envac was able to install the first phase of the system in 2007 and is currently extending the system in 2018. On the development’s full completion, Envac’s pneumatic waste collection system will automatically collect the waste of up to 30,000 apartments multiple times each day.

In March 2017, Bergen also became the first location in the world to install an Envac inlet dedicated to shredding cardboard in a public area. Now, all residents can sustainably dispose their cardboard boxes using Envac’s system. The cardboard is shredded as it enters the inlet before it is transported to the collection station using airflow.

The City of Bergen has already won the National Energy Globe Award 2017 for its decision to install Envac, and more recently, the International Project of the Year  Award at the World Congress on Municipal Engineering in Kansas, USA.

The three-phase development, of which Envac has been involved in the only two carried out to date, is set to continue over the coming years.

The result

By using Envac, the City of Bergen has:

  • Eliminated the problems associated with full bins; when the waste inlets are full the system is automatically initiated and the waste is transported to a collection station outside of the historical city center
  • Enabled the city to protect and maintain a key part of its cultural legacy and stop further wear and tear of its historical roads caused by garbage trucks that are too big to effectively move around Bergen’s old and narrow streets
  • Eliminated the prospect of waste-related fires and burning bins, both of which would be disastrous for Bergen’s timber buildings, by installing a closed system where fire – and the risk of fire spreading – is no longer possible
  • Lowered its insurance premiums as a direct result of installing a closed waste collection system that inhibits waste related fires
  • Won the National Energy Globe Award 2017 for its decision to install Envac and the International Project of the Year Award at the 2018 World Congress for Municipal Engineering
  • Become the first city to make Envac’s cardboard shredding inlets available to the public by locating them in public areas
  • Improved the safety aspects of its centre by removing the risk of accidents attributable to waste collection vehicles
  • Installed a sustainable waste collection solution that has the capacity to handle the waste of 30,000 apartments and several hundred commercial customers including office and retail space
  • Future-proofed its infrastructure by installing a system that will remain operational for decades to come and reinforces Norway’s commitment to the environment

Our priority is to deliver a Bergen that is not only greener, more pleasant and more hygienic for those who inhabit the area now, but also for our children and our grandchildren. In using Envac we have future-proofed the City of Bergen and made it a more resilient, sustainable and innovative place to live and work. This is the future for cities all over the world and we are proud that Bergen is one of the forerunners.

Terje Strøm, Managing Director at BIR Nett AS

How Bergen solved its escalating waste problem

Why did Bergen leave the waste bins behind and changed to Envac’s automated waste collection system?

Are the citizens happy? How is the project coming along? Interviews with the City of Bergen.

Images of Envac's system in Bergen

The first public inlet in the world for cardboard.

Bergen's first waste terminal is located along the harbour main road, off the very city centre.

Graveklubben (The digging society) coordinates the opening of streets in Bergen.

Stainless steel door for commercial waste, typically used indoors.

The iconic Bergen-Line inlet, developed by the City of Bergen and Envac.

Project data

Basic project information

Type of development City

Waste collection capacity February 2019, collecting 4 tons/day

Country Norway

City Bergen

Client The City of Bergen

Envac contract awarded 2008

Launched 2015

Design parameters

Type of project Retrofitting

Type of system Stationary Vacuum System

Pipe network dimension (mm) 500

Pipe network length (mts) N/A Ongoing project

Nr. of waste fractions 3

Type of waste fraction General waste / Packaging / Cardboard

Nr. of storage tanks (MOVAC) N/A

Number of apartments March 2019: 7,000 households, 200 commercial users

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