haulers work to cut fuel costs and pollution emissions
Reduced idling time and adjusted route patterns
have been implemented
By Brian R. Hook
Rising fuel costs and evolving
emission standards are forcing waste haulers across the country
to consider everything from rearranging routes to buying new trash
“If the price of diesel
continues to go up, the overall cost of fuel for trash haulers
is going to rise to be a more significant portion of their budget,”
said Melissa Gauger, International Truck and Engine Corp. marketing
manager. “They are going to be looking at manufacturers
that have better fuel efficiency” for heavy-duty vocational
Manufacturers like International
Truck, an operating division of Warrenville, Illinois–based
Navistar International Corp., are busy designing new engines to
meet the demands of waste haulers. Gauger said a number of options
are already on the market.
One option to help cut emissions
that is already manufactured by International Truck is engines
that use low sulfur diesel, designed to meet the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s clean air standards that are changing
in 2007. These new standards will apply to model year 2007 heavy-duty
trucks and are designed to cut emissions.
“There is a catalyst to
take the emissions down to a level where you can not smell it
or see it,” Gauger said. The one problem with these heavy-duty
engines is that they use low sulfur diesel and the fuel is not
widely available in certain parts of the country.
Another potential draw back to
the engines is that emission controls might lower fuel efficiency.
“There may be a slight dip in the amount of fuel economy
that people are getting for a short time as manufacturers adjust
to the new requirements,” Gauger said.
“Low sulfur diesel fuel
does not have as much energy content as the high sulfur diesel
fuel. The fuel is going to have less energy content than it did
Gauger said it is difficult for
waste haulers to improve fuel efficiency. The trucks are always
starting and stopping. “You do not get as good of fuel economy
as with a highway tractor, when the engine runs more at a steady-state
operation,” she said.
International Truck is designing
hybrid technology for waste haulers. It is working on what Gauger
called a hybrid hydraulic truck. The energy from braking will
be used to help move the truck. “You’re not moving
the engine as much,” she said.
Gauger said waste haulers are
interested in new technologies like hybrids, but she said the
industry is conservative. “When changes happen to products
they are very reluctant to buy those products until they are proven
in the field,” she said. “Hybrid will need to be proven
in other industries before waste haulers will purchase new technology.”
Mark Neale, product manager at
heavy-truck-manufacturer Autocar LLC, also said there is interest
growing in hybrid technology. “Unlike the automotive industry,
there is not any demand for emotional reasons – there must
be a payback,” Neale said.
“This market demands a
very high uptime. Systems must be able to prove reliability. Additionally,
weight is a major concern, so added weight makes the payback period
longer. These concerns must be addressed before hybrids will gain
While development on hybrid technologies
continues, Neale said Hagerstown, Indiana-based Autocar is already
the waste industry’s largest supplier of alternate-fueled
trucks, including both compressed-natural-gas and liquefied-natural-gas
“Autocar is very active
in promoting fuel efficiency,” Neale said. It offers products
to help allow efficient matching of components to applications.
“We analyze the application to make recommendations on items
such as gearing and tire selection for best efficiencies. Seemingly
non-related items like steering can affect fuel efficiency,”
Wayman Pearson, key business
executive for the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services, said
his staff is always evaluating methods to improve fuel efficiency.
Some of the methods implemented over the years by his division
include, adjusting route patterns, reducing idling time, and adding
hybrid passenger and midsize vehicles to its fleet.
Another efficiency method being
considered is the addition of a landfill. Pearson said the staff
is investigating options for a disposal location at an additional
site closer to the areas covered by his division in the southern
part of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Pearson said Solid Waste Services
is currently looking at truck options for one of its zones, but
it is not considering hybrid trucks because of price. “Our
decision to purchase trucks is in many ways dependent on our ability
to maintain our competitive edge,” he said. “My staff
and I believe that purchasing hybrid trucks would hinder us.”
Solid Waste Services in Charlotte
does plan to retrofit approximately 100 diesel-powered vehicles
with pollution-control oxidation catalysts. It won a grant from
the EPA for $100,000, to help cut pollution.
Mike Wegner, solid waste manager
for the Solid Waste Services in Abilene, Texas, said his department
is also trying to improve fuel efficiency. He said his department
uses the Operate-in-Gear-at-Idle system from Heil Environmental
Industries. It helps the side-loaders and front-loaders operate
an improved hydraulic system.
“We are saving five to
ten percent on fuel costs,” Wegner said. He said the department
is studying hybrid trucks for the future and is also trying to
prepare for the new EPA regulations that will add more pollution
Houston-based Waste Management
Inc., the nation’s largest provider of waste and environmental
services has already reduced an estimated 247 tons per year of
harmful air emission from its fleet of garbage and recycling trucks
across the state of California.
Eric Rose, director of communication
for the western division at Waste Management said that out of
the company’s statewide fleet of 2,742 trucks, 1,390 trucks
met the July 1, 2005 deadline for the early implementation. Waste
Management permanently retired 181 trucks, deployed 415 trucks
that operate on natural gas and retrofitted 795 trucks with pollution
controls such as oxidation catalysts or filters.
The California Air Resources
Board, a state regulatory group, created a schedule for all 1988
to 2002 model year trucks to be equipped with pollution controls
by the end of 2007, forcing the state’s 12,000 garbage and
recycling trucks to reduce emissions.
“We focused on California
first because of our severe air problems,” said Rose who
is based in Simi Valley, California. He said California is leading
the way and he expects other states to follow. “We are committed
to reducing diesel emissions,” he said.