Roosevelt Island’s AVAC system was installed during the island's redevelopment in the early 1970s. After the first phase of development was complete, all new residential buildings were required to plug into the tube network. The AVAC system now extends from the Octogon apartments to Southtown.
The system was originally conceived to process all the community’s waste, including hospitals and storefronts. Ultimately commercial waste was kept out of the system and private carting companies service businesses as they do elsewhere.
The AVAC facility collects between 10 and 13 tons of waste from Roosevelt Island’s 12,000 inhabitants and two schools. The system was installed before New York City’s curbside recycling program was in place so it only collects refuse. Building managers transport residents’ recyclables and bulk items separately to containers in the AVAC facility yard. Approximately four times a week the AVAC engineer on duty calls the Department of Sanitation garage to pick up full containers to send to transfer stations.