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Modern Disposal Embraces Clean Energy

Background

Modern Disposal is part of Modern Corporation, a group of companies specializing in state-of-the-art solid waste management and innovative sustainable environmental practices. The company has more than 500 employees in New York as well as Southern Ontario, Canada. 

This 48-year-old garbage-hauling company is based in Model City, NY and owns and operates an on-site landfill. Eleven generators burn methane generated from the landfill to create 12 megawatts of electricity. The power plant capacity is enough to provide electricity to more than 10,000 homes. The waste-heat from the power generation is redirected to maintain a 12-acre hydroponic greenhouse called H2Gro. Operators at the computer-controlled greenhouse grew 5 million pounds of tomatoes in 2012.

Challenge

Despite these clean energy advances, the Niagara County company’s diesel-fueled trash collection truck fleet remained its biggest source of emissions. Given that the transportation sector accounts for 76 percent of the oil consumed in New York, transitioning to compressed natural gas (CNG) offers businesses a cleaner alternative for heavy-duty fleets. CNG vehicles have lower emissions of greenhouse gases, particulates and nitrogen oxides because natural gas is a cleaner fuel that burns more completely than diesel. The vehicles are also quieter than diesel-powered trucks because they have a different type of engine.

When used as a transportation fuel, natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent when compared to petroleum fuels, and can significantly reduce other pollutants as well. Using alternative transportation fuels, such as natural gas, propane, electricity and biofuels, help reduce dependence on imported petroleum while lowering emissions.  In addition, many alternative fuels cost less than gasoline or diesel per mile driven, which can help drivers save money over the life of their vehicles.

Modern Disposal’s leadership team wanted to transition its truck fleet from diesel to natural gas, but needed a way to manage the up-front costs associated with the change.  Conventional garbage trucks cost about $250,000 and travel about three miles per gallon of diesel fuel. Trucks running on CNG cost about $50,000 more. Construction of a natural gas filling station could be as high as $3 million.

Solution

As part of a grant that NYSERDA received from the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Program, Modern Disposal received $1.25 million to help purchase 15 CNG garbage trucks and install the CNG fueling station. As part of Modern Disposal’s ongoing clean energy support plans, the company invested an additional $3.9 million into the project.

Results

Modern Disposal’s CNG fuelling station and truck purchases were completed in January 2012. Throughout 2012, the trucks drove more than 450,000 miles and the CNG station dispensed more than 200,000 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of CNG, reducing GHG emissions by about 350 tons, particulate matter by 700 pounds., and nitrogen oxides by more than 5,000 pounds. Based on Modern’s positive experience with the NYSERDA-funded CNG trucks, the company continues to add new CNG vehicles to its fleet.

With federal and state initiatives adding CNG fueling stations across the state on an ongoing basis, Modern has proven itself as an early adopter of clean-energy technologies, yielding benefits for its business as well as the environment in the area its clients are served.

Press Release, February 2012

 http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/About/Newsroom/2012-Announcements/2012-02-22-Modern-Disposal-Services-Opens-Compressed-Natural-Gas-Fueling-Station.aspx

Last Updated: 07/01/2014