Solving Cities

Waste will power garbage trucks in Canadian city

Waste will power garbage trucks in Canadian city

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In a fascinating new waste management plan, natural gas from decomposed waste will power garbage trucks in the Canadian city of Surrey.

In a fascinating new waste management plan, natural gas from decomposed waste will power garbage trucks in the Canadian city of Surrey.

The city, the second largest in British Columbia, is converting its diesel-powered waste-collection trucks to new trucks that run on compressed natural gas. That natural gas will come from organic waste – around 65,000 tons a year – that will be taken to a new waste-to-biofuels production facility. At the facility, the organic waste will decompose and the biogases it releases will be turned into fuel.

A new report from Energy Vision, a New York-based organization that promotes the transition away from petroleum-based transportation fuel, says that the initiative will cut the total municipal waste stream by 75% through recycling (23%) and separated organics (51%).

Here's how the city's waste management plan is projected to reduce waste in landfills and increase recycling:

"The ambitious and exciting initiative by the City of Surrey is the first we have seen in the U.S. or Canada, in which municipal officials have assumed a leadership role in designing and orchestrating this type of closed loop system," said Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision, in the report.

With the U.S. and Canada being among the top five generators of municipal solid waste per capita, Surrey is a model to help cities cut back on the amount of waste sent to landfills.

It's also a move that will save the city $2.8 million a year for waste collection, when the new system is fully functioning by 2014.

Photo: City of Surrey

Graph: "The City of Surrey: Setting The Pace for Sustainable Transportation"

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure