Waste Management of Seattle has begun construction on a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and unveiled a fleet of CNG-fueled solid waste collection trucks. The Seattle project is part of a larger national effort to cut the company's CO2 emissions by 15% by 2020.
Waste Management is investing $29 million in 106 new vehicles and an additional $7.5 million to build a compressed natural gas fueling station in Seattle. When complete, the station will open to the public and within five years all 180 collection trucks in the Seattle fleet will be fueled by CNG.
Nationally, Waste Management already has 265 CNG and has 418 LNG (liquified natural gas) vehicles; and by the end of 2009, the company expects to have 500 LNG vehicles and 299 CNG vehicles in service.
As part of a broader national effort to convert trucks to CNG, the plan would seem to dovetail nicely with what has been proposed by T. Boone Pickens. In addition to advocating for more wind energy to power our light cars and trucks, Pickens supports converting the nation's truck-fueling infrastructure to natural gas.
"The replacement of diesel to CNG trucks greatly reduces exposure to fine particulate emissions from diesel engines in both residential and commercial area trucks," said Jennifer Andrews, Waste Management’s communications director in the West, in an email.
An independent review conducted by an environmental consulting firm, determined Waste Management’s equipment upgrade in Seattle will reduce smog-causing NOx by 97 percent, toxic diesel particulate matter by 94% and greenhouse gas by 20%.
And considering natural gas prices are less than half of what gasoline prices are in some parts of the country, the conversion to the cleaner-burning domestic fuel also makes good business sense.
As a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, the country's first voluntary carbon market, Waste Management has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six percent from its 1998-2001 baseline emissions by 2010. As part of that commitment, the company has begun an extensive greenhouse gas accounting program and will begin reporting that data after the end of this calendar year.
Not to blow too much smoke here, but any move towards practices that lessen the environmental impact of a company that serves 25 million residential customers and handles 128 million tons of waste annually, is a step forward in the confines of an unavoidably dirty industry.