If things go according to the plan laid out by the Seminole County (Fla.) Board of Commissioners, trash collection days might be a bit quieter. That’s because of the commission’s mandate that residential trash haulers operating in the county must switch their trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas (CNG) by 2020.
Currently, two haulers—Longwood, Fla.-based Waste Pro USA Inc. and Ponte Vedra, Fla.-based Advanced Disposal Services—collect residential and yard waste from the county’s 65,000 homes (in unincorporated parts of the county.) As part of their waste contracts with the county, both haulers will now be required to switch from diesel-powered to CNG-powered collection trucks over the next three years, which the county hopes will reduce noise and emissions on trash days.
The mandate does not include recycling trucks or commercial trash pickup.
The cost involved in converting trucks from diesel to CNG is not just the $50,000 in expenses on the vehicles themselves. It is also involves making sure that there are the right people to maintain CNG vehicles. Many haulers also often build their own fueling stations for the trucks. On the flip side, the cost of CNG tends to be lower than diesel gallon equivalents.
For its part, Advanced Disposal will be converting 11 waste collection vehicles to CNG to comply with the mandate, according to Mark Nighbor the firm’s vice president of marketing and communications. Overall, approximately 18 percent of Advanced Disposal’s entire fleet is currently operating on CNG, says Nighbor. In Florida alone the company operates 94 CNG-fueled collections vehicles.
In fact, in July, Advanced Disposal opened a new facility in Orlando complete with a CNG fueling station. The facility will serve municipal contracts in Orange and, Seminole counties, as well as the Town of Oakland, in addition to regional commercial clients in Lake and Osceola counties, says Nighbor. The new facility will host more than 120 employees and includes the compressed natural gas fueling station, truck maintenance bays and regional office space for local and regional team members.
Waste Pro, too, has made a significant investment in CNG and will meet the county’s deadline for changing over to CNG, a company spokesman says.
“We are ahead of the CNG game in Seminole County,” says Waste Pro Chief Marketing Officer Ron Pecora. “We opened this year a 100-vehicle CNG fueling station at our regional operations center in Sanford, Fla. which is in Seminole County.”
Waste Pro currently runs 20 CNG trucks out of its Sanford facility with more on order, he says. It also runs CNG trucks serving Orange County.
The company’s initial CNG fueling facility officially opened its doors in 2012 in Ft. Pierce, Fla., as the first phase of what Waste Pro said would be a $100 million total investment towards the transition to the environmentally friendly and domestically available CNG fuel.
In the years since Waste Pro’s conversion announcement, five additional facilities have begun operating throughout its footprint, with the Bunnell, Fla., location open for use by the general public, making it one of only 17 in the state.
The company lists several benefits to using CNG over diesel including cost, green fuel and natural gas being an abundant domestic resource. By using natural gas, the trucks emit minimal amounts of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide into the environment. By supporting CNG, the company says it supports the country and its workers, as well as energy independence from other countries.
Overall, the company runs 2,400 collection vehicles, with approximately10 percent already converted to CNG. The hauler purchases an average of 45 to 50 CNG trucks per year and expects that to continue that pace for at least the next three years.