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Seattle Rolls Out Industry’s Greenest Fleet, Leads the Way in Solid Waste Pickup

Fossil fuel-free collection fleet supports Seattle’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050

Photo of a collection truck powered with green energy, with the Seattle downtown skyline in background

Seattle Public Utilities announced today the rollout of the City’s fossil fuel-free, primary collection fleet. The SPU “Green Fleet” will be made up of close to 200 contractor trucks powered by electricity, renewable natural gas and renewable diesel. The fleet includes two all-electric, full size recycling trucks. The Green Fleet will further establish Seattle as a model for US cities in combating climate change.    

“Meeting our 2050 carbon-neutral goal will require creative thinking from every corner of our City. Our new Green Fleet at Seattle Public Utilities is another example of Seattle leading the world and taking bold action to protect our communities from the impacts of climate change,” said Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “Vehicle emissions are the City’s number one contributor to our greenhouse gas emissions. Bringing those down will require increasing investments in transit, bikes, walking and adding density. My electric vehicle charging legislation requires EV infrastructure to be included in new construction as we work to move the vehicles on our roads to electric.”

“As a national leader in green solid waste services, Seattle Public Utilities is committed to cleaner air, achieved in part by green fuels and less emissions,” says Mami Hara, General Manager of Seattle Public Utilities. “We thank our solid waste partners, Recology and Waste Management, and our customers, for their shared commitment to protect our environment.”   

The City expects to have rolled out the full Green Fleet by early 2020. The fleet includes 2, first in the nation, 100% electric Class 8 rear load trucks-plus 4 mid-size trucks for smaller routes and container delivery, and 12 small hybrid or full electric-support trucks or cars.  Most of the roughly 200-vehicle green fleet started servicing SPU customer routes in spring 2019. The remaining vehicles, including one of two all-electric route trucks, will be put into service in summer and fall 2019. The second all-electric route truck will be put into service in 2020.   

The green fleet includes 91 Waste Management trucks powered by renewable natural gas (RNG) – gas from garbage. RNG begins as a biogas when trash decays in landfills. Waste Management cleans the gas and loads it into the national pipeline system. RNG is better for the environment because it is not a fossil fuel and it generates dramatically lower emissions – 70% lower than traditional diesel and 65% lower than CNG. The EPA classifies RNG as a renewable fuel.  

The fleet also includes 80 Recology trucks that are powered by hydrogenated-derived diesel, produced from a range of renewable feedstocks, such as vegetable waste, soybean oil, and animal tallow. Benefits include increased energy security, since the fuel can be produced using a variety of widely-available feedstocks, and lower emissions-approximately 30% lower when compared to CNG and 65% lower compared to traditional diesel. Both renewable natural gas and renewable diesel trucks have state of the art engines that produce near-zero or ultra-low emissions, further reducing impacts from Seattle’s fleets.  

“We applaud SPU and their contractors for blazing a trail to reduce carbon pollution,” says Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment. “This announcement underscores Seattle’s leadership in turning climate policy into action and serves as a blueprint for other cities across the US to eliminate carbon emissions from this vital service.”  

To learn more about Seattle Public Utilities’ green practices and programs, click here.   

To learn more about the City of Seattle’s environmental stewardship efforts, click here.