Holy crap! Ontario truck runs on cow manure.

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The newest refuse vehicle to travel Ontario roads can be described as undeniably green because it is fueled by something undeniably brown — cow patties.

Bluewater Recycling Association, the Ontario Waste Management Association, and Enbridge Gas teamed up this week to unveil the “carbon-negative” truck fueled by renewable natural gas (RNG) that’s produced using cow manure from a local farm.

The decomposing waste generates methane that is converted into the RNG, which Enbridge says will displace the carbon dioxide emissions that would have been generated by 18,000 liters of diesel in the demonstration vehicle’s first six months on the road. It has been serving Middlesex County for about a month.

truck runs on cow manure
MaryAnn Kelders takes the wheel of a BRA Fleet Service truck powered by cow manure in Huron Park, Ont. (Photo: Peter Bregg/ Context Creative)

“This project is a natural next step in the progressive conversion of our fleet from diesel to a cleaner energy source,” said Bluewater Recycling Association president Francis Veilleux, when the truck was unveiled. “We want to use cleaner renewable energy sources to serve our communities while continuing to strive for a more circular economy in all aspects of our operations and help to ensure our municipal members meet their environmental commitments.”

Diesel-like performance

Trucks running on RNG cost half as much as battery-electric units and about the same as diesel trucks, and offer diesel-like performance, Enbridge adds.

Canada also has 10 RNG facilities, while 30 RNG projects are being developed and constructed in Ontario.

“Early investments in compressed natural gas (CNG) are paying environmental dividends via RNG as a straightforward path for decarbonizing transportation today,” said Enbridge Gas president Michele Harradence.

Ontario alone has about 3,650 waste collection and haulage vehicles that collectively consume about 130 million liters of diesel per year.

Enbridge Gas and the Ontario Waste Management Association are in the midst of a pilot project that will offset the price premiums for a couple of dozen trucks that run on RNG rather than diesel.

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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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