Central Park's waste to be collected by fleet of new electric carts

Dive Brief:

  • The Central Park Conservancy — the private nonprofit that manages New York's most iconic green space — will begin transitioning the majority of its waste collection fleet to electric vehicles, as reported by The New York Times.
  • Spurred by a donor, the conservancy will spend $1.94 million on a new charging station and 52 electric Cushman carts to replace some of the 86 small gasoline-powered carts currently in use.
  • The park's successful zoned management system — in which employees are responsible for cleaning a specific area and then bring waste to centralized collection points — has also been piloted at a park in the Bronx. The city plans to expand this model to other parks this year.

Dive Insight:

Central Park reportedly generates 2,000 tons of refuse and 58 tons of recyclables per year, which is currently collected by the gas carts. The sounds and emissions from these carts have drawn complaints, but park operators say it used to be even worse when rear-loader trucks drove directly into the park. Over the years, the conservancy has also designed its own custom waste receptacles and has been offering recycling in all park areas since 2010.

While all of these efforts have helped improve park cleanliness, the numbers indicate that they still aren't capturing a large portion of recyclables. Most of the city's other parks don't have the benefit of a conservancy to fund their operations and may be farther behind. The Central Park Conservancy has recently taken some steps to start sharing its resources as part of a push for equity by the city's parks commissioner, though the cost of electric carts is likely too high to bring them to the hundreds of other locations.

As seen recently in one small Massachusetts city where officials were considering the purchase of a small automated truck for park collection, this is an area in need of new solutions. Electric vehicles may be too expensive for some municipalities to purchase now but as seen last year with new models from Chinese company BYD and the Wrightspeed powertrain, they could become more prevalent across the industry in the future.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer Fleet Management Recycling
Top image credit: Flickr; Rob Boudon