Last week, industry giant Waste Management announced that it had opened its 100th natural gas fueling station, a milestone the company highlighted with a ceremony in Oklahoma City. Waste Management has been a big proponent of using CNG in its trucks as a way toward reducing dependence on oil, lowering costs for fleet operators, and cutting emissions.
“Waste Management’s mission is to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that our customers, our company, our economy and our environment can thrive,” said Jim Trevathan, Waste Management executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a statement.
Last year in the U.S., transport vehicles consumed about 41 million cubic feet of natural gas, more than double levels seen in 2004.
The company has been a leader in the transition to CNG vehicles. With its customers and drivers growing in their appreciation of the benefits of CNG engines, it is investing in further expanding its fleet of trucks that run on CNG and renewable natural gas and the number of refueling stations. Waste Management’s Senior Public Affairs Director Susan Robinson says the company is beginning to purchase new trucks with near zero emissions—reducing emissions by over 80 percent when combined with Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) fuel.
“Besides cutting emissions, using CNG can produce tangible cost savings over time,” Robinson told The Fuse. “Natural gas is less expensive than diesel fuel. Maintenance costs are also low and the trucks are quieter, which our drivers and customers like.”
Waste Management began moving toward CNG in the early 1990s in response to environmental regulations in California. But the major shift began in 2009, when emissions reduction and air quality regulations forced the company to rethink its fleet strategy. A successful partnership with equipment manufacturers, combined with federal and state incentives, has facilitated a successful transition to CNG truck technology in subsequent years. Waste Management also uses landfill gas, which is converted from waste to fuel, as renewable energy for homes and businesses. From its landfills, the company produces some 550 megawatts of electricity, which is enough power for 440,000 homes and can displace 2.2 million tons of coal in one year.
From its landfills, Waste Management company produces some 550 megawatts of electricity, which is enough power for 440,000 homes and can displace 2.2 million tons of coal in one year.
Other companies that use heavy-duty trucks have followed Waste Management’s example. The amount of natural gas consumed in the transportation sector has grown significantly over time. Last year in the U.S., transport vehicles consumed more than 41 million cubic feet of natural gas, more than double levels seen in 2004, according to the EIA. Low natural gas prices, thanks in large part to the fracking boom, along with companies developing strategies similar to Waste Management. There are now almost 1,000 CNG fueling stations in the U.S. Trucking experts note that the relatively stable natural gas market, the use of domestically produced fuel, reduced dependence on imports from OPEC, and the ability to cut both greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide emissions make CNG increasingly attractive for the sector.
For every diesel truck replaced with natural gas, it cuts consumption of diesel by an average of 8,000 gallons per year while reducing gas emissions by 14 metric tons per year.
Even though Waste Management has made an aggressive push to switching to CNG, the company still uses diesel engines in some areas. Robinson explained that some rural areas or very small operating districts may have to continue to rely on diesel trucks for the foreseeable future. Even so, the benefits from switching one truck in its fleet to using CNG has a large impact. Waste Management estimates that for every diesel truck replaced with natural gas, it cuts consumption of diesel by an average of 8,000 gallons per year while reducing gas emissions by 14 metric tons per year.