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US study aims to quantify garbage truck emissions

A study by the University of Nebraska and North Carolina State University aims to quantify air emissions from vehicles used to collect and transport solid waste.


A study by the University of Nebraska and North Carolina State University aims to quantify air emissions from vehicles used to collect and transport solid waste.

The study will attempt to determine if there are connections between garbage truck emissions and ambient conditions, vehicle type and routing characteristics.

Due to the nature of solid waste collection, vehicles continuously start and stop creating significant potential for pollutant emissions,” states an abstract of the study by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, which is contributing more than $200,000 to the investigation. “In addition to local air quality impacts from solid waste collection, a better understanding of the contribution of the solid waste industry to carbon emissions is also of crucial importance.”

As the industry’s fleet composition shifts from standard diesel fueled trucks to dedicated or dual-fuel liquefied or compressed natural gas engines, data from this study can be used to track how such shifts are making waste collection greener.

The study claims to be the first of its kind to ascertain garbage truck emissions under varying conditions and truck specs, which will help identify how variable truck emissions can be.

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation says that in 2007greenhouse gas emissions from the solid waste industry were approximately 160.5 Tg CO2 equivalents, however, the relative contribution of various components of the solid waste management system such as waste processing, collection and disposal is not well known. 

“Although some information is available regarding air emissions and fuel economy of conventional and alternative fuel solid waste collection vehicles, these data may not be indicative of performance under real world conditions,” the Environmental Research and Education says in its study abstract.

 The study is expected to be completed by February 2014. 


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