Environmental sustainability comparison of a hypothetical pneumatic waste collection system and a door-to-door system

Henna Punkkinen, Elina Merta (Corresponding Author), N. Teerioja, K. Moliis, E. Kuvaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Waste collection is one of the life cycle phases that influence the environmental sustainability of waste management. Pneumatic waste collection systems represent a new way of arranging waste collection in densely populated urban areas. However, limited information is available on the environmental impacts of this system. In this study, we compare the environmental sustainability of conventional door-to-door waste collection with its hypothetical pneumatic alternative. Furthermore, we analyse whether the size of the hypothetical pneumatic system, or the number of waste fractions included, have an impact on the results. Environmental loads are calculated for a hypothetical pneumatic waste collection system modelled on an existing dense urban area in Helsinki, Finland, and the results are compared to those of the prevailing, container-based, door-to-door waste collection system. The evaluation method used is the life-cycle inventory (LCI). In this study, we report the atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), SO2 and NOx. The results indicate that replacing the prevailing system with stationary pneumatic waste collection in an existing urban infrastructure would increase total air emissions. Locally, in the waste collection area, emissions would nonetheless diminish, as collection traffic decreases. While the electricity consumption of the hypothetical pneumatic system and the origin of electricity have a significant bearing on the results, emissions due to manufacturing the system’s components prove decisive.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1775-1781
Number of pages6
JournalWaste Management
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Built urban environment
  • environmental sustainability
  • life-cycle inventory
  • pneumatic system
  • waste collection

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