The Envac system, behind the scenes

Whilst the technology and the infrastructure involved in making Envac operational 365 days a year is technical, the concept is simple.

Bins, but not as you know them

Replacing bins are Envac’s waste inlets. Whilst they may look like bins they are, in fact, connected to an underground pipe network that is linked to a collection station (more on that later).

Located in groups, typically no more than 30 metres from communal entry and exit points in residential developments, or where specified in other sites such as airports and hospitals, each inlet represents a separate waste stream.

For example, the dry recyclable inlet should only be used to dispose of dry recyclable waste, which the user is expected to separate in their kitchen using designated compartments – one for each waste stream.

When the users’ kitchen waste compartments are full, they tie the waste bag, walk to the inlet and place their waste in the inlet.

Using Envac's waste inlet

Using the waste inlets is very easy. The RFID tag is part of the smart feature that allows data collection.

The cardboard inlet is a recent development.

Video from our installation in Bergen, Norway.

Inlet models from different installations

Household waste. Seoul, Korea.

Recycling. One inlet per waste fraction. Reus, Spain.

Strömkajen Quay Stockholm, Sweden. Envac collects waste from the boats, street litter in self-emptying litterbins and waste from the hotel located right on the quay.

Stockholm Royal Seaport, Sweden. The waste inlets are accessed with personal RFID tags.

Waste inlet for cardboard packaging, a growing fraction due the fast rise in e-commerce. Bergen, Norway.

The power of airflow

Once the inlets are full – or at pre-programmed times as specified by the system’s owner – powerful fans situated in the collection station are activated by Envac’s control platform, which creates negative airflow that sucks the bagged waste from each inlet to large containers – one for each stream.

Each collection cycle can take only minutes compared with traditional waste collection methods, in which multiple collections are made from multiple locations by multiple collection teams each and every day – something that is made possible as a result of the 70kph speeds at which the waste travels through the underground pipe network. Furthermore, the power of the fans enables each inlet to be located up to a 2km away from the collection station, which means that each collection station has a 2km radius in which as many inlets as required can be installed.

One pipe, multiple waste streams

Whilst there can be as many inlets collecting as many different waste streams as required, there is only one underground pipe network that transports the waste from inlet to the collection station. This is achieved via a diverting valve located at the heart of the collection station. Once the collection cycle for one stream is complete, the system disengages, the diverting valve connects the transport pipe to the correct waste container and the collection cycle – this time for the next waste stream – begins.

Next stop: the collection station

Upon arriving at the collection station, which is typically built on the periphery of a development so that no waste collection vehicles ever have to enter the site, hundreds of waste bags enter a cyclone to remove the air used to transport the bags before being fed into a large container.

Once the large container is full, a standard collection vehicle is used to lift the container onto the vehicle and take it away to be processed. This single collection compared with multiple collections made by fleets of collection trucks is what lowers waste-related vehicle movements and the associated carbon emission by up to 90 per cent.

Shifting waste container

In the waste collection station.

What happends when a container is full?

Into thin air

Many of Envac’s collection stations have become international showcases and venues for best practice tours. One thing that guests always comment on is that despite the high volumes of waste processed by the system, there is an absence of the smell that can be found with even one traditional bin.

This is possible for two reasons:

  1. The entire system – from inlet to collection station – is hermetically sealed, which means nothing can get in, and no smells can get out
  2. The air that is separated in the cyclone is directed to an industrial filter, which cleans the air before it is released from the building

Inside or outside?

Envac’s system can be installed anywhere – and the inlets don’t have to be located externally and reserved for residential developments. Across the world, Envac can be found in:

Apartment blocks

Envac’s pipe network is installed within the core of the building and inlets are installed within the building’s walls or close to the entrance.

Public parks and streets

Either connected to a development’s collection station or installed with its own mini-collection station, Envac’s self-emptying litterbins deliver litter-free streets.


Either in public areas such as departure and arrival halls or as part of an airport’s in-flight catering facility. The pipe network is installed in the fabric of the building.


The system collects general hospital waste and soiled linen either in two separate pipe networks or one common if special bags, as recommended by Envac, are used for the linen. The pipe networks are installed in the fabric of the hospital building. Inlets are comfortably distributed across each floor. Usually combined with an Envac Kitchen Waste System.


Collection of general waste and/or dirty hotel laundry. Envac Kitchen Waste System collects wet and dry waste from the hotel restaurants and bars.

Amusement parks/Arenas

Collection of general waste and litter from the event areas. Wet and dry waste from restaurants and bars.

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