The famous DeLorean from ‘Back to the Future’ ran on banana peels, eggshells and coffee filters to travel through time. While time travelling vehicles are not quite a reality in 2016, the City of Surrey has taken a page out of Doc Brown’s book and is using organics to power its waste collection trucks.
When residents fill up their organics cart, City of Surrey waste collection trucks transport this material, called the feedstock, back to the Surrey Biofuel Facility. The feedstock is transformed into biogas through the controlled process of anaerobic digestion and pumped into the City’s natural gas energy grid. The biogas is upgraded to compressed natural gas (CNG), and wouldn’t you know it, CNG is the renewable fuel source used to power those same waste collection trucks that brought the feedstock to the facility!
Beginning in October 2012, Surrey’s diesel operated waste collection fleet was replaced with BFI Canada trucks that are state-of-the-art and run on CNG. The waste collection fleet currently boasts 36 trucks and with the opening of the Surrey Biofuel Facility, will eventually expand to 52. Providing organics and waste pickup service five days a week, trucks drive on average 25,000 kilometers a year. Each truck is manned by a single operator and has a hauling capacity of 10.5 tonnes of feedstock. That’s A LOT of banana peels and eggshells!
With a significant portion of Surrey’s annual budget allocated to waste collection and disposal, choosing to switch to the CNG powered trucks provided numerous cost-saving benefits and improvements to service but reductions to environmental impacts is one of the most important reasons for the change.
Each fully automated truck:
- Produces 90 per cent less nitrogen oxide and diesel particles in their exhaust than a diesel truck
- Has route optimization software to reduce overall driving time
- Has an automatic engine turn-off for when the truck has been idling for more than five minutes
Switching from diesel fuel to CNG helps Surrey to meet targets set by the province to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Replacing one diesel truck with a CNG truck is the equivalent of taking an estimated 475 cars off the road each year. By choosing this alternate fuel source, annual natural gas revenues are directed back to the province, benefiting the people of B.C.
As the first municipality in Canada to require waste collection trucks to use renewable natural gas and with the Biofuel Facility serving as an innovative model for organic waste management in North America, Surrey is truly embodying the emblem of ‘The Future Lives Here’.