All-electric waste collection vehicle tours UK

Waste management company FCC Environment is touring an all-electric Refuse Collection Vehicle (eRCV) around the UK this summer in order to promote the benefits of such vehicles over traditional diesel collectors.

The vehicle, which comes from FCC Environment’s research and development facility in Madrid, is a plug-in four-axle refuse collection vehicle. It is electrically powered with an ancillary compressed natural gas (CNG) engine, in case recharge is needed, and operates in full electric mode.

FCC claims that the eRCV achieves energy savings of 50-60 per cent compared to conventional RCVs and produces zero emissions as well as being near-silent, making night-time collections viable. It is part of a fleet that has been serving frontline operations in Madrid for the past five years.

The company states that its base in Spain has a long-term research and development programme involving alternative-fuel vehicles suitable for delivering environmental services. This truck is one of a few zero-emission vehicles FCC has developed that is able to perform waste collection tasks, alongside 1,900 sustainable vehicles including hybrids and natural gas powered trucks.

Comprising some 10 per cent of FCC’s entire Spanish fleet, these vehicles are lowering emissions and noise in urban areas. The hybrid plug-in vehicles leave the depot fully charged, function entirely from electrical power while operating in cities, and can – if needed – recharge their batteries en route to the treatment facility.

UK Head of Fleet for FCC Environment, David Simpson, commented: “FCC has been trialling this zero-emissions RCV in Spain for a number of years. With the backdrop of government pressure to phase out diesel, now is the right time to highlight the potential of electric vehicles for the UK’s waste and recycling industry.

“The market is developing rapidly, and the time when we will have cost parity between conventional and alternative-powered vehicles is drawing ever-closer. Without the financial and environmental cost of running diesel fleets, society could make significant gains within pre-determined timescales.” 

An electric future?

As well as air pollution, road transport accounts for around 22 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions. Research indicates that although fewer than one in every 20 vehicles on European roads are commercial, they account for almost 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

With a government pledge to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, companies and councils are examining the prospect of using electric vehicles for waste activities.

Read more: Electric wheels: A future without petrol for waste collection fleets?

A fully-electric, rear-loading RCV was unveiled in January at the Future Fleet Forum in London. Vehicle and compactor manufacturer Geesinknorba presented its Li-On Power Pro vehicle at the event.

Both the chassis, built by Dutch company Emoss, and the body are powered by lithium ion batteries and the body uses the energy-saving GPM IV model developed by the Netherlands-based company in 2015.

Additionally, last month waste management company Veolia announced it is set to deploy its first zero-emission electric street-sweeping vehicles in the London Borough of Lambeth – a first for the company’s UK operations.

Veolia purchased five new electric street cleansers instead of diesel alternatives, which the company reports will save 78 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment every year – the equivalent of removing three passenger cars from the road.

A trial of the vehicles in Lambeth showed that the electric street cleansers maintained the same work performance as diesel, while eliminating carbon emissions to zero and bringing additional benefits including a 70 per cent reduction in water use.

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