Seattle launches electric garbage trucks as part of new green fleet

May 31, 2019, 7:05 PM
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities)...
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities)
(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities)

When you think of moving toward green energy, a garbage truck probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind. But Seattle is on the verge of becoming the first in the nation to add a few fully electric garbage trucks. Of course, they’ll still smell like garbage if you’re driving behind one.

The electric trucks are produced by Recology — a waste management company that focuses on sustainability — and the first will be put into service in June, the second next year. They’re part of a fossil fuel-free, green fleet roll out that will see up to 200 contractor trucks powered by electricity, renewable natural gas and renewable diesel.

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About 80 Recology trucks are already roaming the streets, fueled by a diesel derived from renewable sources, including vegetable waste, soybean oil,  and animal tallow. The fleet will also be comprised of 91 Waste Management trucks powered by renewable natural gas, which begins as a biogas when trash decays in landfills. We’re still a ways from directly powering vehicles from garbage, like Doc Brown powers the time machine at the end of Back to the Future.

“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 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.”

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The full fleet is expected to be in operation by early 2020, and will likely turn out to be the greenest set of garbage trucks in the nation. Whether that becomes a source of pride for Seattleites remains to be seen.

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Seattle launches electric garbage trucks as part of new green fleet