Inside WM’s Natural Gas Fleet
Vehicles receive natural gas fuel through our network of WM owned and operated fueling stations. As of the end of 2020, we operated 171 natural gas fueling stations across North America, with 25 of these also open to the public. In the case of facilities like WM’s new Skyline RNG Facility, a natural gas fueling station was installed directly adjacent to where landfill gas is captured and processed, creating a closed loop through waste collection, conversion into energy and use as fuel for collection trucks.
Natural gas vehicles fueled with RNG offer many environmental benefits by reducing NOx emissions by as much as 97%, diesel particulate matter by as much as 94% and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by as much as 80%, compared to the diesel vehicles they replace. The use of RNG also incentivizes improved management of existing waste streams, which can lead to water and air quality benefits beyond the production of RNG.
In 2019, we began using RNG captured from dairy and hog operations as an additional source of fuel. Converting waste manure to RNG is a win-win: it reduces methane emissions at a dairy farm and reduces vehicle emissions from trucks on the road. Dairy RNG also delivers a significantly lower carbon intensity than diesel or even landfill RNG, meaning that fewer emissions are associated with its production and consumption than other fuel types. In 2020, we established a third ultra-low-carbon-intensity dairy project, increasing the capacity to fuel our fleet with low-carbon fuel. WM is also piloting a project to use biodiesel where CNG fuel is not available or practical, allowing us to further reduce our fossil fuel-derived diesel use.
Improving the Efficiency of Our Network
Beyond using cleaner fuel, we are decreasing the amount of fuel we consume via logistics solutions, including route optimization technology that allows us to reach customers while traveling the shortest possible distance. Efficient routing translates into reduced fuel consumption and associated emissions, while also improving the quality of our service by limiting delays.
Credit for much of this progress goes to our WM Way initiative, which helps streamline routes. WM Way technology includes DriveCam®, a video recorder mounted on the windshield of collection vehicles that is automatically activated by sudden movements. Where appropriate, managers watch videos with drivers to coach them on safer and more fuel-efficient driving techniques, such as proper acceleration, deceleration and efficient speeds. We also use an anti-idling program to reduce fuel consumption. Through this program, all collection vehicles built after 1998 can program idle shutdown timers to five minutes, in accordance with the American Transportation Research Institute’s Compendium of Idling Regulations.