Sheffield trials waste-powered electric bin lorries

Electric-powered waste vehicle in Sheffield
Updated bin lorries will be powered by energy generated from residual waste burned at Sheffield's Energy Recovery Facility
Sheffield City Council is set to trial electric bin lorries that are powered by the very waste they have collected.

The two lorries, the first of which was unveiled on Monday (3 September), have been refitted with batteries powered by energy generated from residual waste burned at the city’s Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) in Bernard Road. Any surplus energy will go towards heating the city’s homes.

The lorries’ updated engines will emit zero carbon emissions and produce no air pollution. In addition, Sheffield City Council says the vehicles have regenerative braking and weigh less than normal collection vehicles, so particulate emissions from brakes and tyres will be reduced.

Sheffield City Council has been awarded £220,000 by Innovate UK for the battery packs fitted to the two lorries – the rest of the costs will be met by Innovate and other project partners – as part of a £2.6 million national scheme aiming to accelerate the country’s transition to zero emissions heavy goods vehicles. Two other lorries will be trialled in Westminster Council as part of the project.

By using expertise from Sheffield-based electric vehicle firm, Magtec, which designed the battery-powered system that will drive the lorries, the aim is to provide local jobs as well as contributing to a healthier city.

“This is an amazing, innovative project that puts Sheffield and the region at the forefront of green technology,” said Councillor Mark Jones, Cabinet member for Environment and Climate Change. “We believe we are the first local authority ever to do this, putting Sheffield at the forefront of the green energy revolution. Our city is working hard to deliver clean air and green jobs. We are rightly proud of projects such as this, alongside our own proposals for a clean air zone to cut nitrogen dioxide.”

“Converting one bin lorry to electric is equivalent to taking 30 diesel powered cars off the streets”

Marcus Jenkins, Founder and Director of Magtec, said: “The quickest and most economical way to reduce harmful emissions in our cities is to repower diesel trucks with electric drives. Converting one bin lorry to electric is equivalent to taking 30 diesel powered cars off the streets. We are especially delighted that two of the repowered vehicles will be running in our home city of Sheffield. Re-powering larger fleets of vehicles will accelerate the growth of Magtec and create more high quality engineering jobs and opportunities for young people.”

A waste collection vehicle typically has a lifespan of seven years, after which the cost to maintain it often exceeds the cost to replace it, resulting in the vehicles being sent abroad or stripped for parts. By upgrading the lorries to run on electricity, their working lives can be extended by another seven years.

Veolia is one of six partners contributing to Sheffield’s project and will be responsible for operating the vehicles. Gavin Graveson, the waste management company’s Executive Vice President, said: “This project highlights Veolia’s ongoing investment in clean air solutions across the UK. By converting existing vehicles and trialling alternative fleet solutions with forward thinking local authority partners like Sheffield City Council, we are not only preserving resources but are lowering emissions and creating greener cities.”

Other partners involved in the project include DG Cities, a Greenwich-based urban innovation company specialising in the integration of ‘smart city’ technologies, and Microlise, specialists in telematics and technology solutions for fleet operators. They’re based in Eastwood, Nottingham.

By putting the vehicles into service, the project will conduct a research and development scheme over two years to fully test the vehicles for durability, performance and cost effectiveness.

Sheffield has been chosen for its hilly terrain as well as its unique access to the ERF, and Sheffield Council hopes that a successful trial may see the conversion of more vehicles in the area, and inspire other local authorities to take on the concept.

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