Sunshine Coast Council prepares to send waste underground

Australia’s first underground automated general waste collection system in Maroochydore, Queensland will be switched on in July.

Waste and recyclables from buildings and street bins in the new 53-hectare Maroochydore City Centre will be pumped through a 6.5km network of underground pipes at speeds of up to 70km/h to a collection station for transfer to disposal or recycling facilities.

Each building in the new CBD includes at least three waste inlets – for organic, recyclable, and general waste.

Waste dropped into each inlet will be stored in a sealed compartment below ground until a vacuum pump is activated at the central waste facility, usually twice each day.

Once delivered to the central facility through the network of sealed vacuum pipes, each waste type will be stored in sealed compactors to await collection by a council contractor.   

Design and delivery of the new city centre began in 2015 to provide a mix of residential, commercial, retail, civic and community uses to complement the area’s existing business offering.

The waste collection system, designed by Swedish firm Envac AB and manufactured in South Korea, will be extended as the development of the Maroochydore centre progresses.  

Sunshine Coast Council’s Group Executive of Customer Engagement and Planning Services, James Ruprai, says that although Covid-19 has delayed the commissioning of the system, the council expects it to be operational by mid-year.

A high-speed fibre optic network is also being installed in the centre’s foundations to enable the council to provide “smart” signage, free Wi-Fi hotspots, real-time transport information, movement sensors and smart lighting.