Solid Waste & Recycling


Hybrid trucks

The Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada is leading the Canadian Hybrid Truck Initiative (CHTI). Its purpose is to facilitate the adoption of hybrid trucks in Canadian fleets with t...

The Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada is leading the Canadian Hybrid Truck Initiative (CHTI). Its purpose is to facilitate the adoption of hybrid trucks in Canadian fleets with the initial focus on Class 3 through 8 vehicles. Hybrid Trucks may interest your organization if it has extensive waste collection operations in an urban environment.

According to the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA), a group of fleet operators interested in procuring hybrid vehicles have formed the Canadian Hybrid Truck Users Group (CHTUG) with the goals of:

* Creating specifications for the hybrid trucks required by Canadian users;

* Working with manufacturers to ensure they understand and accommodate Canadian requirements for hybrid trucks; and

* Organizing a Canadian buyer pool for hybrid trucks to take advantage of volume pricing.

How they work

What are hybrids? Generally, a hybrid vehicle uses more than one system to produce, store and deliver power increasing the overall efficiency of the vehicle. They capture and store energy during braking, which would otherwise be lost as heat. The stored energy can then be used when there is peak demand, usually during launch, acceleration and/or for another power requirement (e.g. power take off). The ability to capture and re-use energy that would otherwise be wasted, creates the efficiency of the hybrid vehicle.

Currently both mechanical (hydraulic) and electric hybrids are being developed and refined. In hydraulic hybrids, the internal combustion engine is paired with a system of hydraulic pumps that captures and stores energy in a hydraulic accumulator. The energy is released when pressurized gas in the accumulator forces hydraulic fluid through a hydraulic motor which then drives the vehicles drive shaft. When the vehicle brakes, the hydraulic motor turns into a pump, forcing fluid back into the accumulator. In an electric hybrid the internal combustion engine is combined with an electric motor/generator and batteries or capacitors for energy storage. When the vehicle accelerates, energy drawn from storage powers the motor, which in turn powers the drive shaft or transmission. When braking, the motor turns into a generator and returns energy to storage.


What are the benefits? The primary benefit of hybrids is that they provide a significant increase in fuel economy, particularly in drive cycles that include urban driving, stop-and-go traffic and high idling rates. The increase in efficiency is the result of recaptured energy that can be used to smooth the peak energy demands of starting or accelerating a vehicle or when it allows the internal combustion engine to be switched off.

A secondary benefit, currently being assessed, is the potential of reduced maintnance costs for hybrids. Because hybrids recover energy either through hydraulic accumulators or electrical generators when the vehicle slows down, there is a reduced need to use the vehicles brakes. This may extend brake life by reducing brake wear. Hydraulic vehicles may also have extended maintenance intervals for the internal combustion engine because the electrical motors or hydraulic pumps will carry some of the load.

The CHTUG has three working groups, each focused on a particular vocation function: refuse collection trucks, utility bucket trucks, and urban delivery trucks. Although the Hybrid Refuse Truck Working Group has members from several Canadian municipalities, it would like to extend membership to the commercial waste management sector.

If you are interested in learning more about the Canadian Hybrid Truck Users Group or how hybrid trucks could benefit your organization, please contact Stephen Fleming, Bronson Consulting Group, 613-787-2000 ext. 5, email or Richard Parfett, Natural Resources Canada, 613-944-5126 email

Internet resources

Transport Canada has conducted a study assessing the technical feasibility, energy efficiency, and economic viability of using a hybrid electric power train in an urban garbage truck. Results of the study can be found at

The Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) is a U.S.-based organization sponsored by the U.S. Army with the objective of commercializing hybrid vehicles. One of the applications being investigated is a hybrid refuse truck. CHTUG is working closely with HTUF to facilitate hybrid adoption. The link to the HTUF website is

There are two fact sheets that describe hybrids. The Environmental Defense Fund provides a description of hybrid electrics that can be found at documents/3530_Hybrids_FactSheet.pdf

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides a description of hydraulic hybrids that can be found at technology/420f04024.pdf

This article was prepared using information circulated by the Ontario Waste Management Association (OWMA). Contact OWMA at

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