Waste Management- CNG Refuse Fleet (Case Study)

Waste Management, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, is a provider of comprehensive waste management services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the company provides collection, transfer, recycling and resource recovery, and disposal services. It is one of the largest residential recyclers and also a leading developer, operator, and owner of waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America.

Figure 23. Waste Management's compressed natural gas refuse truck
Figure 23. Waste Management's compressed natural
gas refuse truck

With 30,000 collection and support vehicles on the road throughout North America, Waste Management is committed to reducing the environmental impacts of these vehicles. Waste Management is a national leader in the use of alternative fuels for heavy-duty trucks, and it is committed to transitioning diesel fleets to CNG. The fleet currently includes more than 1,400 natural gas trucks, the largest of its kind in the waste industry. In 2012, natural gas vehicles will represent 80% of the company’s annual new truck purchases. Waste Management will continue to replace the fleet with natural gas vehicles and may accelerate replacement through a number of initiatives.

For every truck replaced with natural gas, Waste Management reduces its use of diesel fuel by an average of 8,000 gallons per year, and also achieves a reduction of 22 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. The vehicles powered by CNG, compared to the older vehicles they replaced, are far quieter, reduce air particulates by up to 90%, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25%. Unlike diesel, most natural gas is produced domestically and provides a great opportunity to stimulate the economy throughout the supply chain. Natural gas vehicles are also easier to maintain and weigh less than their new diesel truck equivalents. They can also use biomethane from landfill gas, sewage treatment facilities, and dairies, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 85%.

Figure 24. Waste Management time-fill compressed natural gas station in Chicago
Figure 24. Waste Management time-fill compressed
natural gas station in Chicago

Waste Management is constructing its own fueling stations. It owns the stations, purchases the fuel, and finances the construction of the stations. The company also enters into maintenance contracts for some stations with third-party companies. Waste Management believes this strategy allows it to secure better prices in the long run. To optimize costs, its preferred platform for these stations is to time-fill the trucks according to a set schedule. For public access fueling stations, which serve both commercial and consumer vehicles, Waste Management installs fast-fill capability. Waste Management operates 28 fueling stations in North America and intends to have nearly 50 in operation by the end of 2012.

In 2007, as part of its corporate sustainability goals, Waste Management committed to increasing its fleet’s fuel efficiency by 15% and reducing fleet emissions by 15% by 2020. Achieving this goal by 2020 will yield significant benefits including an estimated savings of the following:

  • 350 million gallons of fuel
  • 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions
  • $1 billion in operational costs

Complementing its own internal efforts to improve its fleet, Waste Management is working collaboratively with others to promote progress across all sectors. This includes supporting increased fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks.