Greening Garbage Trucks: Trends in Alternative Fuel Use
According to INFORM, Inc., a nonprofit that identifies environmentally preferable ways of living and doing business, about 136,000 refuse collection trucks traverse U.S. streets a day. While these refuse trucks provide a needed service, they also typically burn diesel fuel in older engines that lack enhanced pollution controls. Furthermore, refuse trucks idle while compressing the onboard garbage. Therefore, these trucks are often a major source of urban air quality degradation.
Sustainability Officers interested in learning about the use of alternative fuels in refuse trucks can refer to INFORM’s report entitled “Greening Garbage Trucks: Trends in Alternative Fuel Use, 2002-2005.” The report showcases how state- and local-level mandates and economic incentives spurred the transition to natural gas use in refuse trucks and presents profiles of U.S. refuse truck fleets. It also offers INFORM’s four detailed recommendations for greening refuse fleets.
Although a popular term, the specific definition varies among states. Generally speaking, alternative fuel is any substance that can be used as fuel that is not petroleum based, i.e. gasoline, diesel, coal, propane, or kerosene. Alternative fuel is typically derived from BIOMASS material or natural gas. The term is also applied to petroleum-based fuels that have been mixed with some percentage of alternative fuel. Common types of alternative fuels include solar, vegetable oil, alcohol, hydrogen, compressed air, and electricity. A petroleum-based fuel used in diesel engines which rely on highly compressed air to ignite the fuel rather than an electric spark.