Neighborhood garbage trucks are typically not the most environmentally friendly vehicles, but that’s changing. Many cities are switching to waste haulers that use alternative fuels, such as Clean N’ Green (CNG), to improve emissions and save money on fuel costs.
Some of the biggest players in the waste hauling industry, such as Waste Management and Republic Services, have been utilizing eco-friendly trucks for several years. It makes sense for the environment and for the company’s bottom line.
According to Waste Management, each CNG truck it adds to its fleet saves about 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel and reduces CO2 emissions by 22 metric tons per year.
The maker of Clean N’ Green gas, a shale-based alternative fuel, states its fuel lowers carbon monoxide emissions by 70 percent and non-methane organic gas and nitrogen oxides by 87 percent. Additionally, it costs about one-third less than petroleum-based fuels.
Some waste haulers are utilizing alternative fuels other than CNG, including biofuels and liquefied natural gas (LFG). An example is Recology, a San Francisco-based trash hauler which switched its entire fleet of 400 trucks to LFG and biofuels back in 2007.
With a shift over the past decade to lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil, alternative fuels are the future. The U.S. contains a substantial amount of shale deposits. In fact, a report released by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of Interior states the Green River Formation located in parts of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah contains enough shale to produce 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil – that’s 3x greater than the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia.
Processing just 800 billion barrels of shale oil from the Green River Formation would produce enough oil to meet U.S. demands for the next 400+ years. But, there’s a problem… Very few commercial fleet companies, such as waste haulers, switch to alternative fuels simply because of the initial cost of the investment – it’s expensive!
As time goes on, the cost of converting to alternative fuels is sure to drop. According to Clean N’ Energy, there’s only one CNG-compatible consumer vehicle on the market at the moment, the Honda Civic GX. Most cars and trucks can be retrofitted to accept CNG fuels but again, the cost is steep. It costs between $12,500 and $22,500 for the retrofit.
With such a strong push toward clean energy in recent years, I expect the cost of purchasing clean-burning vehicles to drop quite steadily. At least some commercial waste haulers are jumping on board in the early stages of the movement; the environment thanks you!