New York’s Roosevelt Island is like Futurama for trash: Underneath the island, a system of pneumatic tubes whisks garbage from trash and recycling bins off to the processing center. Now the company that built the tubes, Envac, wants to expand to more of the city.
The Roosevelt Island system has a lot of advantages — during New York’s severe snowstorms last year, it was the only part of the city without serious garbage buildup. It also trades diesel-fueled garbage trucks for pneumatics, which still take energy but have lower emissions. And it definitely has the potential to reduce New York’s trademark rodent population. Plus, if you have an underground garbage chute instead of a Dumpster, you can make spoiled children fall down it when they try to grab your trained squirrels. (Anyone? No?)
Cornell University is building a science and technology center on Roosevelt Island, and it only makes sense to expand the garbage subway to cover the campus — if you can’t put your high-speed Futurama garbage tubes in a mad scientist’s basement, where can you put them? Envac is also looking at building new systems at Coney Island and in Chelsea, where the garbage would actually fly overhead, using the High Line as part of the tube infrastructure.