How Waste Haulers are Reducing Waste

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A car and a Waste Management hauling truck fuel up at the new Clean N' Green CNG fueling station in Mesa, Ariz. Photo: Mary Mazzoni, Earth911

We know our garbage hauler’s job is to manage our throw-aways. But many of these companies are taking steps to make the waste-hauling business a bit less, well, wasteful.

Last month, Waste Management of Arizona, in partnership with PetroCard, unveiled a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station to provide fuel for trash and recycling trucks serving the area. Located in Mesa, Ariz., the self-service Clean N’ Green fueling station will power 30 collection vehicles and is also open to the public.

While many greenies are on the fence about CNG, the emissions savings for high-mileage vehicles, such as those used to cart our trash, is tough to deny when compared to conventional diesel fuels. Every year, the switch to CNG will save an estimated 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 22 metric tons of CO2 per converted vehicle, Waste Management said.

When compared to their diesel-powered counterparts, CNG trucks also reduce particulate matter emissions by up to 86 percent and carbon monoxide emissions by 80 percent, the company said.

Related: UPS Tests Super-Efficient Truck

Waste Management plans to launch 13 more CNG fueling stations in 2012, but that’s not the only way the company plans to make operating their 30,000 collection trucks more efficient.

In 2007, the company set a goal of reducing fleet emissions and increasing fuel efficiency by 15 percent by 2020. If accomplished, efficiency goals will save an estimated 350 million gallons of fuel and prevent 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere, the company said.

To meet the mark, the company upgraded route efficiency, reducing driving hours by more than 2 million since 2007, and commissioned 2,200 biofuel-powered vehicles. The company also powers trucks with liquified natural gas (LFG) derived from landfill emissions at its Altamont, Calif. landfill.

Get Informed: Cheat Sheet: Biofuel

The concept of reducing the waste assosciated with managing our trash and recyclables is nothing new. In April 2011, a Republic Services operation in York, Pa. began converting their 65-vehicle fleet of collection trucks from diesel to CNG power. Completed in early 2012, the conversion will annually displace more 640,500 gallons of diesel fuel and reduce nearly 160,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, the company said.

Recology, San Francisco’s waste and recycling collection company, made the switch to 100 percent alternative fuel all the way back in 2007, with more than 400 collection and transfer vehicles fueled by LNG or biodiesel.

So, how do you think waste haulers should manage their waste? Could CNG bridge the gap to other alternative fuels, or do you have a different solution in mind?

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