Bringing Swedish recycling experience to the UK

4 August 2021

In order to reach the United Nations sustainable development goals and meet the climate change goals set out in the Paris Climate Change Agreement, policymakers, consumers and businesses need to cooperate to reduce our footprint. The Link talked to Dave Buckley, Managing Director of SCC member Envac UK, about their contribution to this challenge and how cities can become nicer, greener and cleaner places to live.

Envac is a waste handling systems provider founded in 1953, today owned by Stena Adactum. With its automated, pneumatic waste collection system, Envac has a vision to create smarter cities, improve quality of life today, and help secure a greener planet for future generations. Dave explains how the Envac system works: “Instead of having a dustbin or a bag outside your house which is collected by the local authority once a week, you put your waste into a waste inlet, and that is then transported underground to a central holding area.”

Simplified waste recycling
This system comes with a multitude of benefits. For instance, it simplifies waste recycling, meaning higher recycling rates and less waste going to landfills. Instead of having diesel vehicles running around polluting the air, the holding area creates a vacuum sucking the waste. It makes the waste much easier to collect while emitting 95% less emissions. Taking away the vehicles and dustbins also creates a safer and more people-friendly living environment.

Taking dustbins out of the picture gives the home developer more space and allows for a different way of building. “If you’re building a development where you don’t have to have a 36-tonne vehicle running around picking up the rubbish, the roads can be built differently. You can have more space for amenities and make it a nicer, greener and cleaner place to live,” Dave says. In addition, the Envac system can also drive recycling performance. “The UK, for instance, has a static recycling performance, having stayed the same for over ten years. An Envac system, produced properly, can be three or four times more effective,” Dave explains.

Convincing investors of the benefits
One of the biggest challenges for Envac, and perhaps to all transitions towards more sustainable methods, is to convince investors of the benefits. “I think we can be a bit afraid of new things here in the UK. We’re quite conservative. So our challenge is to demonstrate that investing in an Envac system is offset by the benefits, e.g. lower operating expenses.” Envac’s Swedish heritage does, however, help them to overcome this challenge. “We are seen as Swedish and we definitely use it as a point of differentiation. Selling against traditional methods to UK companies can be difficult, so being able to show the Swedish result of nearly 60 years of Envac experience is obviously an advantage.”

Time for reflection during the pandemic
Dave admits that the pandemic has proven to be a tough challenge for Envac. “Having to work from home wasn’t a very big issue, but the fact that everything stopped for eight months definitely was. We struggled like many other companies and the hangover has carried on a little bit into this year, but things are getting better now.” However, Dave emphasises that the pandemic brought some benefits in terms of reflection and evaluation. “What it allowed us to do was just have a look at how we did things. We had plenty of time to look at lessons learned instead of rushing ahead, to give people a bit more responsibility and use people and their core skills rather than trying to do too much.”

Challenge not to grow too fast
Looking ahead, Dave is confident that Envac is on the right path. “We have a couple of new clients, for instance, local authorities in London looking at our solution. Looking forward, I think one of our challenges will actually be to not grow too fast. We need to make sure that we plan our growth well, but we’ve had plenty of time to plan our growth in the past year, and I’m sure we will succeed.

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