An important shift is rippling through a variety of industries as environmental concerns, such as greenhouse gas emissions, increasingly gain attention of policymakers and government leaders. For instance, earlier this year, Environment Canada announced that it will extend its established common standards for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from passenger automobiles and light trucks to heavy-duty vehicles. For companies that maintain large truck fleets, this marks an important change in the way we operate. It also presents an opportunity for companies to take action that serves not only to benefit their bottom line, but also to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
In Canada, the transportation sector accounts for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. While heavy-duty vehicles comprise of only six percent of the total number of vehicles on the road, reducing emissions in this sector will help in part to achieve an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions levels. A number of Canadian companies are seeking cleaner burning fuels, such as liquid natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG). Both economical and environmentally-friendly, these alternative fuels have become more widely accepted worldwide due to rising oil prices, tougher emission standards and growing public demand for environmentally-conscious vehicles.
As part of its Vancouver Clean Air Initiative, Waste Management announced an agreement with Terasen Gas in September to supply fuel for 20 new “clean air” trucks as part of a long term conversion of its local fleet from diesel to CNG. Powered by CNG, these trucks are set to begin operation in January 2011, and mark the beginning of Waste Management’s program to build a “green fleet” to serve the Lower Mainland.
Trucks powered by natural gas are both economical and environmentally-friendly. For example, comparing current prices for CNG and diesel, fuel costs for the new Waste Management trucks would be 40 per cent less. Maintenance costs are expected to be lower because natural gas burns cleaner than diesel, so engine parts stay cleaner. Moreover, the clean-burning trucks will deliver distinct environmental benefits, including nearly zero air particulate, 23 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, quieter engines and a smaller carbon footprint.
Currently, Waste Management operates the largest fleet of clean air CNG trucks in North America and is aggressively moving to put more clean fleets on the road, as conventional diesel trucks are retired.
Fleet use remains the largest market for natural gas vehicles (NGVs) as companies try to reduce fuel costs and lower emissions. For fleets that come home at night, such as transit and refuse fleets, natural gas creates a more attractive bottom line and a smaller environmental footprint. With more than 11 million NGVs in use around the world, NGVs are cleaner than, and as safe as their gasoline and diesel counterparts.
With demand for reducing emissions increasing, greater availability of clean fuel alternatives is necessary to fulfill these needs. Renewable resources, such as our everyday waste can be used to create these fuels, truly helping us at Waste Management to close the loop on our collection cycle, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas fleets help create a cleaner environment – something everyone can enjoy.