Our fleet of more than 32,000 collection and support vehicles is one of the most visible symbols of our company. In 2007 we made a commitment to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions and improve the efficiency of our on-road fleet vehicles by 15 percent. To achieve this goal, we began transitioning to cleaner vehicles and fuels, as well as minimizing the number of miles our trucks travel each day. As a result of these focused efforts, we achieved our goal by 2011 and since then have continued to work toward further emissions reductions and routing efficiency improvements.
Transitioning to Natural Gas Vehicles
One of our primary strategies for reducing emissions is to transition our fleet of 18,500 collection vehicles from diesel to cleaner-burning natural gas. In fact, we’ve been a pioneer in natural gas since the early 1990s. Today, we have more than 5,000 natural gas collection trucks on the road, which makes us the largest private vocational heavy duty fleet user of natural gas in the nation.
We continue to expand this fleet with up to 90 percent of new trucks purchased in 2015 running on compressed natural gas (CNG). For every diesel truck replaced with natural gas, we reduce our use of diesel fuel by an average of 8,000 gallons annually and GHG emissions by 22 metric tons per year, which equates to a 21 percent GHG emissions reduction per truck. Natural gas-fueled trucks are also quieter than diesel and cut smog-producing nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 50 percent compared with the cleanest diesel trucks. In total, we’ve invested more than $1 billion in natural gas transportation innovation over the last two decades.
Reduction in on-road
fleet emissions over 2007 baseline
Reduction in on-road
fleet emissions through 2015
Where possible, we use renewable natural gas to fuel our trucks. Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a natural gas produced from biogas generated at landfills or anaerobic digesters. In total, nearly one third of our fleet uses biogas and 100 percent of our fleet in California runs on renewable natural gas. Nationwide, 36 percent of our natural gas fleet runs on biomethane. Learn more about how we create biogas on in our Organics section.
Hybrids are another means of reducing emissions in our fleet. In recent years, we have been transitioning diesel-powered bulldozers, which are important pieces of equipment used at our landfills, to diesel-electric hybrid machines. Currently, we operate the world’s largest fleet of Caterpillar D7E bulldozers, which run on a smaller diesel engine powered by an electric generator. Our 30 diesel-electric bulldozers burn nearly 50 percent less fuel per hour than their predecessors.
Finally, we work with the U.S. EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, which assists companies seeking to make improvements in their fleets’ environmental performance and provides models for tracking fuel consumption and efficiency. We have been a member since 2010 and were the first company with a vocational fleet (e.g., construction, utility, refuse vehicles) to become a SmartWay Partner.
Producing and Providing Fuel
Our transition to a natural gas fleet is dependent upon the existence of fueling stations that support these types of engines. That’s why a core element of our fleet transition strategy has been to build our own fueling infrastructure – both to refuel our own vehicles, as well as to sell compressed natural gas (CNG) to other commercial fleets and individuals. We continued to grow our natural gas fueling infrastructure in 2015, opening 12 natural gas fueling stations for a total of 84 fueling stations in the United States and Canada as of the first quarter of 2016, with 30 percent of these stations open to the public.
In partnership with our CNG station manager PetroCard, many of our stations are open to the general public in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Washington state. Several of our other stations provide access for fueling by municipal bus fleets or other third parties.
2015 Natural Gas Transportation
32,000total collection and
1 billioninvestment in
We also have plants that convert landfill gas into natural gas for use in vehicles – thereby powering trucks with the very waste they are collecting. For instance, at the Altamont Landfill in California in 2005, we collaborated to build the world’s largest plant to convert landfill gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG), a completely renewable fuel. The plant produces up to 13,000 gallons of Renewable LNG per day and helps to power truck fleets – ours and others’ – in California. What’s more, LNG represents a 90 percent reduction in GHGs as compared with diesel. Since its creation, the plant has produced more than 16 million gallons of LNG for use in trucks. We also operate an on-site renewable natural gas facility at our Milam Landfill in Illinois and American Landfill in Ohio, which convert landfill gas into pipeline-ready natural gas that offsets the natural gas fuel used in our fleet. Milam can support 470 trucks at current production levels; American can support up to 400 trucks.
Reducing Truck Miles
Another key strategy for reducing emissions from our fleet involves using new technologies to reduce the miles our trucks need to travel. Our Service Delivery Optimization (SDO) initiative helps us streamline routes for our fleet, cutting the amount of fuel we need and lowering our carbon footprint. As of the end of 2015, 100 percent of our main lines of business vehicles had been optimized with SDO. We have found that marrying technology – such as our Efficiency Management and Planning (EMAP) on-board computing system – and logistics management processes with the skill of our drivers allows us to cover routes more efficiently. One key part of SDO is DriveCam®, a video recorder mounted on the windshield of our collection vehicles that is automatically activated by sudden movements (e.g., hard braking, sudden acceleration). In some districts, we see the potential to save as much as 8 percent on fuel by coaching drivers on proper acceleration, deceleration and speed limits. You can learn more about DriveCam in our Safety section.
We pursue innovative ways to eliminate unnecessary collection trips altogether. For example, our self-powered solar compactor uses internal sensors to determine when trash needs to be compacted, thereby giving each 35-gallon receptacle a 180-gallon capacity. When the compactor is full, it wirelessly signals for pickup. The solar compactor reduces the number of collection trips – and associated transportation emissions – required for each receptacle, which is especially valuable in high-traffic public areas and urban centers.
Similarly, our convenient Bagster® service eliminates the need to send a truck to deliver an empty container to customers by offering compact containers for sale at more than 4,000 retail locations across the United States and Canada. Bagster is strong enough to hold up to 3,300 pounds of debris or waste, making it suitable for anything from home renovations to disaster cleanup. When customers are finished with their projects, Waste Management can collect up to 15 full Bagsters on a single, efficient collection route.