Toronto Garbage Trucks Will Soon Run on What They Collect

Using Biofuel will make the trucks carbon neutral and will reduce the city's fuel costs too.

Nov 17, 2019

(mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com)

Refuse collection plays an important part of city life. Garbage trucks pick up the smelly refuse and make cities much more livable. A clean city like Toronto in Canada is a very pleasant place to live.

But garbage collection comes with a big cost environmentally. That's because they use a lot of fuel and fossil fuels are contributing to climate change. But what if there was a way to make the trucks run on renewable energy like biogas?  There is and Toronto is going to convert their fleet to biogas, and they will harness the biogas from the organic waste that the trucks collect.

At the Dufferin Solid waste management facility where the trucks unload their collections, garbage is sorted into three areas, garbage, compost, and recycling. Now, according to a news release, the city in partnership with Enbridge Gas, Inc, is installing new biogas upgrading equipment at Dufferin.

The organic waste that is collected by Toronto's Green Bin will be processed into renewable natural gas (RNG), injected into the natural gas grid, and then used to fuel the garbage trucks. The news release said: "Current estimates suggest that the Dufferin RNG facility will produce approximately 3.2 million cubic meters of RNG per year – enough to power the majority of the City’s solid waste collection fleet."

This closed-loop project is one of the first of its kind in Canada – and North America – and will allow the city to reduce its carbon footprint and save money by reducing fuel costs at the same time. The project is part of the city's Long Term Waste Management Strategy and move to a circular economy. The Dufferin site is the first out of four locations to be fitted with new equipment.

As part of this strategy, the landfill sites – both the ones in use and the ones that have been closed – and anaerobic digestion (organic processing) facilities are the largest biogas and landfill gas producers in the province of Ontario. The city had been looking for ways to harness the green energy potential of the gasses and has settled on producing RNG.

While the city's fleet of 170 garbage trucks has not made the change over yet, the switch over will begin in March 2020 with the RNG being mixed with natural compressed gas.

If the city fully makes the switch to only using RNG, the garbage trucks will be carbon neutral, Robert Dysiewicz, a business development manager for Enbridge Gas told CBC News. "They[the garbage trucks] will be just as clean as any other electric vehicle or hydrogen vehicle being anticipated," he said

According to the city, once all four sites are built and running, the city should be able to produce 64 million cubic meters of RNG a year, that is the equivalent to removing 35,000 cars off the roads for a year.

While Canada is not yet on track for meeting its Paris Accord goals, new technology and out-of-the-box thinking like the RNG project in Toronto and other Ontario's carbon footprint reducing policies if adopted country-wide could help Canada catch up fast. Now that's sweet-smelling news.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.