FOUL-SMELLING rubbish chutes will soon be a whiff of the past at Jurong's Yuhua estate, as blocks there get retrofitted with high-tech waste collection infrastructure.
Since early last month, six blocks in Yuhua have been using the pneumatic waste conveyance system. It uses vacuum-type underground pipes to automatically gather household garbage, doing away with the usual manual method of collection, and the accompanying pests and smell.
For residents, they simply throw their waste down the chute as normal, but underground, it is sucked away to a central bin centre. A total of 38 blocks in the estate, or about 3,200 households, will have it by the third quarter of this year, as part of the Housing Board's Greenprint programme.
If deemed feasible, the stem will be rolled out to other housing estates.
As waste collectors need to retrieve garbage from only one point and less frequently, this system is estimated to reduce manpower needs by about 70 per cent, said HDB's deputy director of technology research Tan Chek Sim.
He added that this method gives residents a cleaner and greener environment.
Said Mr Tan: "The entire time, rubbish is not exposed. There is no spillage so there is less smell."
Residents in blocks which have piloted the system agreed.
"We don't have to worry so much about pests like cockroaches now," said housewife Helen Leong, 45.
Retiree Kwek Han Tiang, 67, added: "It's great that we have new technology like this. Singapore is a First World country after all."
HDB cautioned that bulky items such as bamboo poles and pillows might choke the pipes, which are 50cm in diameter and span about 4.6km.
But if this happens, the suction power will be automatically increased to unclog the blockage, said Mr Tan. There are also manholes which allow for manual access to the pipes if needed.
While this system has been test-bedded at some HDB blocks in Kim Keat, Choa Chu Kang and Clementi, Yuhua is its largest implementation in Singapore. Upcoming housing projects at Tampines North, Bidadari and Punggol Northshore will also come with it.
The Greenprint scheme for Yuhua, which started in 2012 and will end this year, aims to transform the estate into Singapore's first green neighbourhood. It is estimated to cost about $23 million.
Other green initiatives include rooftop solar panels and double-tier bicycle racks.
The pneumatic waste collection system is expected to take up more than half the cost, given its large scale and extensive network of underground pipes, said HDB.
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