Rising to the challenge

It’s not quite clear who popped the question that was to be so decisive for the future of pneumatic waste collection technology.

However, it is quite clear who the four people around the table in Sollefteå Hospital, on that momentous occasion at the end of the 1950s, were. There was engineer Torsten Karefelt, responsible for the technical work at the hospital, Olle Genberg, chief architect, Sten Olsson, consultant for heating and plumbing systems, and Olof H. Hallström, proprietor and managing director of Centralsug AB

They had decided to meet at Sollefteå Hospital to discuss a new central dust vacuum system when the discussion suddenly took another turn.

“If we can vacuum dust from every corner of the hospital in one single system, why can’t we do the same thing with waste?”, asked one of the four members.

The idea had not occurred to anyone before, and no-one knew if it was even feasible. But Olof H Hallström rose to the challenge.

Sollefteå Hospital

Technical hurdles

As a true believer in the power of technology, Hallström felt that there was no technical problem too difficult to solve.

A couple of years previously, with the aid of an inheritance from the sale of his family farm, he had purchased Ingvar Gustafsson AB, a company that later changed its name to Centralsug AB. It specialised in the construction and installation of central dust vacuum systems. With this experience behind him, Olof Hallström returned to Stockholm to work out an answer to a question which, for many people even to this day, still feels like something from the future.

Hallström kept his word and returned a couple of weeks later with a proposal for a vacuum waste handling system for the hospital.

The first pneumatic waste collection system ever

In 1961, Centralsug AB installed the first system in the world at Sollefteå Hospital. It is still in operation today with many original parts from the early 1960s.

The first system in a residential area

Despite the bold vision, it was dust vacuum systems that kept business going for Centralsug.

In fact, it took several years after the first installation before Fastighets AB Förvaltaren, a municipality-owned housing company in Sundbyberg, decided to give the exciting technology a try.

This resulted in the world’s first pneumatic waste collection system for household waste, in the completely new residential district of Ör-Hallonbergen, being launched 1967. The system is still in operation today.

Many years later Centralsug changed its name to Envac.

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