Solid Waste & Recycling


New Waste Collection Technology

In January Waste Management (WM) announced a pilot program to introduce Rotopress waste collection trailers for the first time in North America to improve the flexibility of its collection operations. The vehicles will first roll out in...

In January Waste Management (WM) announced a pilot program to introduce Rotopress waste collection trailers for the first time in North America to improve the flexibility of its collection operations. The vehicles will first roll out in Houston, Texas, followed by pilot projects in San Diego, and Sacramento, California, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Camden, New Jersey. The company anticipates the program to provide greater operational flexibility and reduce trips, fuel use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved maintenance costs.

Rotopress is manufactured by Faun, a German manufacturer of waste disposal vehicles, which has been in operation across Europe for more than eight decades.

The Rotopress modular technology, combined with a decoupled tractor-trailer configuration using natural gas as its fuel source, provides a number of operational and environmental benefits to meet the challenges of a diversifying waste stream; it also reduces capital costs, exposure to rising fuel prices and emissions.

Rotopress is significantly lighter than most compaction-plate vehicles and allows the vehicle to carry up to 14 tons — generally four more tons than a conventional waste collection vehicle. The decoupled tractor-trailer configuration allows for better management of assets as chassis and body can be replaced separately on a more effective schedule. In addition, these assets are decoupled, which allows for future, fuel-saving class 6 tractor operations, which will operate on natural gas.

Compared with a rigid vehicle, a semi-truck trailer has a 40 per cent smaller turning radius, making it more maneuverable, which is very desirable in residential areas with cul-de-sacs and parked cars and in other tight areas. In the event of a breakdown, the truck and module can be separated reducing downtime and improved utilization of trucks. The unique corkscrew design continuously moves waste to the front of the body, which helps prevent overloading of rear axles while keeping sufficient weight on the front axle at all times. (This makes the drive smoother and reduces wear on tires.) Maintenance costs should improve from less stress on the suspension and far fewer moving parts compared to a conventional rear loader.

The Rotopress does not directly press any additional liquid out of the waste, but binds it by permanently mixing it with the dry material. This operation reduces the amount of free liquid in the system, lowering damage to the body that can be caused by corrosion and additionally reducing leakage and odors considerably. The entire Rotopress drum is soundproofed and the continuous movement of the waste eliminates noise peaks during loading. This, combined with the use of natural gas engines, will greatly reduce noise.

“The Rotopress will help contribute toward our corporate sustainability goal to increase fuel efficiency by 15 percent and decrease emissions by 15 percent by 2020,” says Eric Woods, vice president, fleet and logistics at Waste Management. “Our plan is to save 350 million gallons of fuel and reduce 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020.”

The new vehicles build on the company’s existing fleet of more than 1,400 heavy-duty trucks fueled with natural gas.

Ottawa CNG conversion

Residents of Ottawa can look forward to a cleaner and quieter city when Waste Management introduces 25 new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fuelled trucks to collect waste and recycling in 2012 as a result of being awarded a collection district by the city.

“We’ve committed to transitioning our diesel fleet to CNG with 80 per cent of our new trucks being CNG fuelled; these 25 trucks in Ottawa are part of this initiative,” says Sherry Stevenson, municipal affairs manager for WM. Stevensen says for each truck converted to CNG, diesel fuel is reduced by an average of 8,000 gallons per year, delivering a reduction of 22 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

WM will be constructing a CNG fuelling station at the Westbrook Road facility in Stittsville. WM operates 17 CNG fueling stations in North America with plans to have nearly 50 operational by the end of 2012.

Earlier this year, Waste Management announced the conversion of its 100 truck commercial fleet in Vancouver to CNG with a fueling station at its collection facility in Coquitlam. The company has also implemented route optimization software that will reduce driving time by several million hours each year. And all truck engines are programmed to shut down automatically after idling for five minutes to save fuel and further reduce emissions.

Wes Muir is Director of Corporate Communications for Waste Management in Brampton, Ontario. Contact Wes at

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