Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rubbish will be out of sight on Yas Island

ABU DHABI // Rubbish lorries will be a rare sight around the private developments on Yas Island after the property developer Aldar decided to construct what will be the largest underground waste collection system in the world.

Graham Bell, the managing director of Envac Middle East, described the system as a “big vacuum cleaner”.

The Swedish company Envac pioneered the concept in the 1960s and it is now being used in 600 developments around the world.

Waste handling for Aldar’s 1,700- hectare Yas Island development would be done via an underground network, similar to other services such as sewage, telephone and electricity lines.

The system has been installed in the Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai International Airport, and could be extended to other prime locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including Raha Beach.

The waste is thrown into bins or shutes installed around walkways or in buildings, and is sucked into an underground network of pipes. At a speed of 70kph, it travels to a central collection point. The computerised system uses a vacuum to carry the rubbish and separates it into paper, plastic, cardboard and organic matter.

The waste from all 40 towers of the Jumeirah Beach Residence is gathered at a single collection point via a network of piping that is 6km long.

By eliminating the need for travel, the system ensures that less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, is emitted.

“Compared to a conventional system, this is more expensive,” said Mr Bell, who added that the capital expenditure needed to install the system was four times greater than the expenditure needed for a conventional system. However, the operational costs were about a fifth of those in a traditional system, he said.

The first pipe was installed yesterday, in what will be a 4km network to service phase one of Aldar’s Yas Island development.

The project, which includes a Formula One racetrack and hotels, is due to be completed by the middle of next year.

The system would be capable of handling 24 tonnes of waste per day, said Michael Merriman, Envac’s general manager for Abu Dhabi.

The contract for phase two of the development, which will include a Ferrari theme park and the island’s main shopping mall, is expected to be signed later this month.

Eventually, 220 tonnes of waste will be generated per day.

“We are probably looking at 70km of pipes when the island is completed,” said Mr Bell.

The waste will be separated at source, which means paper, cans and plastic will be separated from organic matter. This, said Mr Bell, would allow the developer to recycle some of the waste while using the organic matter to produce compost.

Envac is carrying out feasibility studies at the Al Raha Beach development.

When completed, the project is expected to house 120,000 residents and will generate 320 tonnes of waste per day.

It would need a network of underground pipes as long as 60km.

In addition to the 600 existing systems, about 300 are being built in countries including Spain, Sweden and China as city planners make it mandatory for new developments.

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