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Turning trash into gas

Imagine being able to turn the product you haul into fuel for your fleet. That’s exactly what Progressive Waste Solutions will be doing by next summer, at its Lachenaie Landfill north of Montreal. Speaking at the Natural Gas Vehicle...


Imagine being able to turn the product you haul into fuel for your fleet. That’s exactly what Progressive Waste Solutions will be doing by next summer, at its Lachenaie Landfill north of Montreal. Speaking at the Natural Gas Vehicle Infrastructure Conference, Dan Pio, vice-president and COO with Progressive, outlined plans to convert methane gas produced at the landfill, into natural gas that will be fed into a pipeline for distribution, creating a new revenue stream for the company.

”The very materials we collect today will fuel our trucks as early as next year,” Pio said. “That’s a profound statement, and a far cry from where this industry was 30–40 years ago.”

The project will generate enough natural gas to power Progressive’s entire Canadian fleet. Progressive Waste Solutions claims to have the largest fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks in its industry. Last year, it deployed 70 CNG refuse trucks to serve the Coquitlam, B.C. area, and in April, it took delivery of 61 nat-gas trucks for its Barrie, Ont. operations.

Pio said natural gas trucks account for about 13% of Progressive’s Canadian fleet. That’s expected to grow to 16% by the end of this year. ”In a typical year, we buy 350-400 vehicles from a replacement standpoint, and in 2014, we anticipate 50-55% of those units will be CNG-fuelled.”

While the trucks are more expensive, a return-to-base application such as refuse collection is well suited for the fuel, providing an attractive return on investment. Municipalities appreciate that the conversion helps lower greenhouse gas emissions, and residents like the quietness of the engines—though, that last attribute has necessitated some community outreach. ”Public education is important,” Pio said, noting the trucks can be so quiet that residents may not be aware of their presence.

Progressive Waste Solutions built its own CNG fuelling stations in B.C. and Ontario, but would like more third-party stations come online. ”We do have small fleets with 10–15 trucks, so the emergence of some of these pay-as-you-go stations is something I support and would like to see more of,” said Pio.

When constructing a fuelling station, Pio suggested working closely with your gas supplier and to build redundancy into the system, so that trucks can still be fuelled if one pump or section of line is taken out of service. Deploying natural gas trucks means working closely with gas, vehicle and body providers. Driver and technician training is also required.

Still, despite all the work that goes into planning and executing the deployment of natural gas trucks, Pio remains undeterred. ”We’re all-in with natural gas,” he said. “For us, natural gas is clearly a differentiator in our space.”


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