Cleaner bin collections

Bin collection is, by nature, quite a dirty task. However, councils around the country have been working on making collections cleaner by using electric vehicles

In January, South Tyneside Council began trialling an electric refuse collection vehicle. The council will assess its first all-electric refuse collection vehicle (eRCV) to see how it performs against that of a conventional diesel engine.
The analysis will include monitoring the impact on the battery of frequent starts and stops and bin lifts, the charge-up requirements, impact on staff working patterns, and the suitability of the truck on the Borough’s varied collection rounds, in different neighbourhoods and streets and on different gradients.  
In 2019, the council declared a climate emergency and committed to taking all necessary steps to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The council already has a fleet of 325 vehicles, including 18 electric. The council’s fleet accounts for 11 per cent of the 17,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, which need to be cut in order to meet the carbon neutrality goal.
Councillor Ernest Gibson, lead member for transport and neighbourhoods, said: “Our diesel refuse collection vehicles perform a hugely demanding task.
“Every waste collection round is different and puts a different strain on vehicles and our crews, which is why it is important to give this specialist electric bin lorry a thorough test drive in real-life day to day operations.
“We’re delighted to be the first local council to test this new electric refuse collection vehicle from CTS Hire and give our waste collection crews the chance to work with the latest technology.
“We’re excited to see how well it works for us and will be monitoring how it performs, particularly over this period and in inclement weather.
“This will help us to understand the capabilities of electric refuse collection vehicles and make informed decisions about their viability for potential use in South Tyneside in the future.”
South Tyneside Council is the first local authority in the country to hire an electric refuse collection vehicle of this type from municipal vehicle hire company CTS Hire on a short-term arrangement.
Gibson added: “We have set an ambitious target for carbon emission reductions by 2030 across our council operations and introducing more electric vehicles to our fleet is one of the ways we are working to meet our objectives.

“These electric trucks are much quieter than their diesel counterparts and have zero CO2 emissions leading to reduced noise and air pollution, which makes them ideal for operating in busy urban areas. More sustainable alternatives are a huge step in the right direction for us to achieve our aims while continuing to deliver the front-line services on which our residents rely.”

City of London
Back in 2021, the City of London Corporation became the first UK governing body to run a full fleet of eRCVs. Five trucks formed the UK’s first zero-emission recycling and waste collection fleet. The trucks aimed to help reduce air pollution in the capital, being powered by lithium-ion batteries instead of diesel. The City of London Corporation has an ambitious goal of ensuring that at least 90 per cent of the Square Mile meets World Health Organisation guidelines for nitrogen dioxide by 2025.
At the time, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Environment Committee, Keith Bottomley, said: “These new vehicles will help to further drive down air pollution in the City and improve the environment. Our fleet vehicles emitted about 400 tonnes of CO2e in 2018/19, so this change of fleet is of great significance.
“We hope this move will encourage local authorities across the country to follow suit in the urgent need to deal with toxic air.
“This pioneering fleet complements the work we’re doing to help businesses consolidate vehicle deliveries and use more hybrid models.
“Air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health with up to 36,000 people dying prematurely every year in the UK.
“We will continue to take steps to ensure that we are reducing emissions from our entire vehicle fleet, for the benefit of all.”

Also in 2021, Manchester City Council invested in 27 eRCVs to replace almost half of its fleet. At the time, it was estimated that the swap would result in a reduction of carbon emissions by almost 900 tonnes a year.
In a bid to encourage community engagement, a competition was held to name five of the lorries. 600 votes were cast and the winners were announced as Sparkus Trashford, Usain Volt, Trashiena, Bin Diesel and Binspiral Carpets.
Councillor Angeliki Stogia, executive member for environment, said: “These new electric bin lorries are a visible symbol of our commitment to cut carbon emissions and improve air quality. I’m sure that Sparkus Trashford, Usain Volt and friends will become a cheery and familiar sight around the city’s neighbourhoods.
“We’d like to thank everyone who suggested a name or took the time to vote in the poll.”  
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, added: “While the naming competition has certainly sparked Manchester people’s imaginations, we hope they will take these vehicles to their hearts.
“We’re proud that Manchester City Council has made the most significant investment of any council in emission-free refuse collection vehicles and that the waste and recycling service is playing its part in binning pollution.”

eRCVs introduced in Nottingham in the same year, were named as Binderella and Trash Gordon. The lorries were introduced as part of the city’s plan to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028. At the time, it was expected that the new lorries would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the city by 52 tonnes a year and save the taxpayer £32,000 a year in running costs.
Councillor Sally Longford, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for energy, environment and democratic services, said: “It’s great to be able to officially unveil these vehicles today and I’d like to thank everyone who helped to choose names for them.
“They were the first ones off the production line, which is a big deal for the city. It reaffirms Nottingham’s place as a leader in putting innovative electric vehicles into operation.
“They add to our award-winning fleet of zero-emission vehicles which already include the first fully-electric sweepers, cage tippers and minibuses to be run by a local authority in the UK.

“We are leading by example and electrifying the refuse collection fleet is a major step forward in our aims to deliver clean air in our city and a huge step towards our carbon-neutral goals.
“A total of 30 per cent of our vehicles are fully-electric, emitting no exhaust emissions whatsoever, and these lorries further underline our commitment to having a fleet which consists of as many ultra-low emission vehicles as possible by 2028.”

Greater Cambridge Shared Waste, a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils, also uses electric vehicles.
Cllr Rosy Moore, executive councillor for environment, climate change, and biodiversity for Cambridge City Council said “It’s great to have our second fully-electric bin lorry which is one more step to help us improve air quality and reduce our carbon emissions whilst maintaining a high-quality service to residents and businesses, collecting waste and recycling. We are committed to replacing our existing diesel vehicles with ultra-low emission versions when each vehicle requires replacement. We are early adopters of this new technology and are pleased to be leading the way as a waste collection service in doing everything we can to achieve our net zero carbon targets.”
Cllr Brian Milnes, lead cabinet member for environment at South Cambridgeshire District Council said: “We were one of the very first waste collection services in the country to introduce a fully electric bin lorry into our fleet and I know residents were pleased to see it out and about. As we continue to reduce carbon emissions from our fleet, it’s excellent news that we are taking delivery of our second such vehicle. Cutting emissions is one of the most significant things that we can do as a Council to meet our zero carbon aspirations for South Cambridgeshire.”

Meanwhile, in Exeter, three electric lorries entered operation in August last year. The vehicles are powered by electricity produced by the Council’s solar farm and battery storage facility at Marsh Barton. It is planned for all 15 of the city’s refuse vehicles to become electric.
The council plans to be net zero carbon by 2030. It is anticipated that the switch will save approximately 27,000kg of carbon per year.
Cllr Ruth Williams, lead councillor for recycling, said: “We have three electric vehicles now out on the road as part of the fleet for refuse collection in Exeter.
“We are planning to get more, but we’re well on the way now – and they are absolutely fantastic. They are very quiet compared to the diesel ones. They’re much cleaner and we’re not pumping out all the CO2 from diesel, so it’s a great day for Exeter to see these vehicles in service.”
Cllr Duncan Wood, lead councillor for climate change added: “These trucks go out across the city - there are 15 of them at the depot, and we now have our first three that are electric.
“Exeter’s refuse vehicles are out every day throughout the city, and each truck runs its engine almost constantly from the moment they go out to when they get back to the depot. That’s 7 to 8 hours of emissions from a truck, collecting around nine tons of rubbish, being moved around by diesel engines throughout our city – that’s what’s going to be saved by using these electric vehicles.”
“This is a significant investment, a significant change to the way we operate. These vehicles will be charged from our solar farm at Water Lane in Marsh Barton. So not only will they be cleaner, the electricity we use we know will be green electricity, so it is a definite plus.”
Electric bin lorries are also in use in Oxford, Denbighshire and Birmingham.

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