Largest ever to be used in a
residential environment

Envac, the global pioneers of underground vacuum waste collection, has launched the UK’s first ever residential cardboard shredder at Barking Riverside, one of Europe’s largest housing developments. The move will allow residents from approximately 2,000 homes to sustainably manage large volumes of cardboard waste, preventing around 105 tonnes of cardboard from being sent to landfill annually.

The 88cm wide cardboard shredder, which can shred packaging as large as TV boxes, is the largest ever to be used in a residential environment. It is also the first time that residential cardboard collection has been handled by vacuum waste collection in the UK, which will see large volumes of cardboard ‘sucked’ in an underground pipe network from the shredder to the collection station every day.

The giant cardboard shredder has been connected to Barking Riverside’s existing automated waste collection system. The system and cardboard shredder were specified by master developers Barking Riverside Limited (BRL), a joint venture between L&Q and The Mayor of London, as part of their commitment to embed positive recycling behaviours within the neighbourhood early on. The growing development will offer over 10,000 homes and new facilities on a 443 acres brownfield site on the River Thames in East London.

“The launch of our communal cardboard shredder is a huge step forward for recycling levels at Barking Riverside. Not only will it reduce the environmental footprint of our residents but, by being the first development in the UK to address cardboard waste using this technology at scale, we further reflect our progressive approach towards delivering sustainable and affordable homes in London.

This is particularly important in new-build communities such as Barking Riverside, where we have hundreds of residents moving in each year, buying furniture and other household items that inevitably generate cardboard waste. Our decision to specify the Envac system, and now the cardboard shredder, sets an industry benchmark as to how large residential developments should tackle waste management.”

Sarah Phillips
Head of Estates at Barking Riverside Limited

Dave Buckley, Managing Director at Envac UK (centre) is joined by Matthew Carpen, Managing Director at Barking Riverside (centre right, in high vis), Paul Miller, Deputy Managing Director – Business Strategy and Finance at Barking Riverside (left), Chris Harrison, Headteacher at George Carey School Primary School (far right) and pupils from the school who all came to use the UK’s first ever residential cardboard shredder, which is part of the Envac system, for the first time.

The Barking Riverside system

Launched in 2018, Envac’s system has cut on-street bins by 98 per cent and waste collection-related carbon emissions by 90 per cent by removing the need for on-site waste collection trucks. It currently transports the waste of around 2,000 homes through an underground pipe network via airflow. The system has already had a transformational impact on residents’ recycling rates. During April 2023, 47 per cent of all waste at Barking Riverside was recycled – higher than the London average of 12 per cent for flatted properties.

Retail packaging-related cardboard waste is on the up, with the average household now receiving over 200 cardboard boxes every year* in home deliveries.

With the ability to shred an unlimited amount of cardboard and the capacity to transport four cubic metres of the material from the shredder to the collection station in only 26 seconds, the new addition to the Envac system will radically improve the sustainability of waste collection at Barking Riverside.

Barking Riverside’s cardboard waste recycling system is accessed via radio frequency identification (RFID) tags made available to residents. When residents have cardboard waste to recycle, they simply take it to the inlet and feed it through the shredder. When the inlet becomes full, or at pre-programmed times, high-powered fans located in the collection station create negative airflow that ‘sucks’ the waste through the pipes.

“The team at Barking Riverside Limited demonstrated its commitment to tackling traditional challenges using innovative methods when it installed an Envac system designed to accommodate almost 10,000 homes back in 2018. The installation of the cardboard shredder marks the next step in the development’s evolution, underlines the company’s commitment to sustainable waste collection and cements its position as one of the most progressive placemakers in the UK.”

Learn more about the Barking Riverside project.

Barking RIverside aerial rendition

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