The municipality had only been collecting a single fraction. Inhabitants themselves had to sort their rubbish and carry it to collection containers in the city centre. The load on the city centre was quite significant. But thanks to a new infrastructure solution, the future looks brighter.
October 10 2011
Today, Bergen is showing its very best side. The temperature is a couple of degrees above zero, with a deep blue sky and trees lit up by the October sun in amazingly contrasting colours. Located on the coast between the Atlantic and high mountains, and surrounded by an archipelago, Bergen is one of the most scenic cities in northern Europe.
A modern city with a long history
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city with 263,000 inhabitants. It is an old city, founded as far back as 1070, with a rich historic heritage. The hilly city centre is filled with timber houses closely packed around narrow alleys. Due to the density of its wooden housing, the city has been plagued byrecurrent fires. Naturally, these unique houses are challening demanding for a modern infrastructure, not least when it comes to waste disposal. The ever denser inner city business, with growing amounts of waste and a need to offer the same source-separated waste collection options as in the surrounding area, led the city’s politicians to take a unique decision to install a waste vacuum system throughout the city centre.
Reduced fire risks
Primarly, they wanted to remove the waste containers from the streets. The bins constituted a considerable fire risk and impaired both freedom of access and the city’s image. And then they wanted to restrict heavy traffic in the city centre. Because of Bergen’s topographical position, pollution figures exceeded guideline values relatively often. As Laila Mjanger, operating manager and the officer responsible at BossNet, explains, “Up to now, 60-litre containers have been used by households. The municipality has only collected a single waste fraction: residuals. All other recyclable materials must be transported by residents to so-called recycling stations.” These are large metal containers placed on pavements and open spaces.
In 2006, Bergen’s politicians decided to introduce a pipe-based waste collection system. The waste vacuum system was to be installed in parallel with the installation of district heating in Bergen Centre. Three waste vacuum systems for three different areas of the city centre were planned. Residents were to have street inlets on pavements and publicspaces and commercial users would have their own inlets in or adjacent to their properties. BIR, the municipal waste disposal company, was assigned to design and procure the system. BossNet, a wholly owned subsidiary, was set up for the project. The procurement contract for the first phase was won by Envac’s Norwegian subsidiary, Envac AS, in 2010. The excavations were coordinated by Graveklubben.
The waste disposal system will handle three separate waste fractions in two inlets: paper and plastic in the one inlet and residuals in the other. The mixed paper and plastic were separated at a later stage into different fractions. Both households and businesses were to be connected. Commercial users were to have special inlets capable of handling 120 litre sacks, fitted with locks and so-called access cards. This allows the individual registration and billing of commercial users based on the quantity and type of waste disposed.
The installation of the underground waste disposal system will be financed in equal parts by households and commercial users. BossNet will provide initial installation financing by levying an extra annual charge of EUR 17 on all households in the City of Bergen. In addition, all households that use the system will be charged EUR 34 per year.
Companies are free to choose to be connected to the underground waste disposal system or not, but they have taken a positive position in discussions so far. It is also important to point out that BossNet is a non-profit company. Laila Mjanger explains:“BossNet is a prime cost based and a competitively neutral company.”
Strolling around the beautiful city centre today, the number of waste containers is striking. This is probably because today is a collection day. But nevertheless, one should be impressed by the city’s decision to install a pipe-based waste collection system in these unique surroundings. We belive the first part will be in operation next year. We look forward to see the result.
Facts about Bergen
Project start: 2006 (contract 2010)
Type of system: SVS 500
Area of use: Household and commercial
Number of fractions: 2 (residuals and paper/plastic waste)
Number of inlets: 465, divided into two stations (300 residuals and 165 paper)
Length of the pipe network: 11,318 m (5945 + 5373)
Type of waste: residuals and paper
Number of users: 7 718 appartments + commercial 11,6 tonnes/day
Total: 30,7 tonnes/day
Type of control system: SCADA