- The two waste-hauling companies in Seminole County, FL, will have to replace their current fleet with trucks that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) by the end of 2020, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
- The companies, Waste Pro of Florida and Advanced Disposal Services, service roughly 65,000 homes in the county. Waste Pro has "about 20" trucks and Advanced Disposal has "about 10" trucks, according to the Sentinel. Recycling trucks and commercial waste trucks will not be affected by the CNG mandate.
- Orange County, FL, required waste haulers to switch to CNG in 2015. There are 114 trucks operated by three companies in Orange County running on CNG, servicing over 200,000 customers, according to the Sentinel.
Some of the big companies have started switching to CNG trucks on their own — and are working on continuing to grow their CNG fleets. There are some municipalities, like San Diego and Atlanta, switching from diesel to CNG trucks. Others, such as Los Angeles, are beginning to require CNG as part of franchise agreements and more cities are setting vehicle emissions requirements that could be met with these vehicles. But outside of these cases in Florida, there aren't as many instances of county governments forcing change on their local haulers. The level of pushback in these Florida counties could serve as a sort of case study for other counties that are considering CNG requirements for waste haulers. And, if they continue to prove successful, the strategy could spread to other counties that are looking to lower their emissions.
The trend may be irreversible, with the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) estimating that over 50% of new trucks placed into service run on some kind of natural gas. Waste haulers aren't alone, either — Los Angeles is revamping its bus fleet to run on CNG. It's not unlikely that more and more governments and companies will transition their fleets to run on natural gas, given the fossil fuel's low cost and relatively low emissions, especially when compared to diesel trucks.
Moving from diesel to CNG won't be the last transition that the waste industry takes — and the next transition may come sooner than expected. Between electric hybrid and entirely-electric trucks, a future filled with trucks that are even quieter and cleaner than CNG vehicles is entirely possible. And, of course, there's the ever-looming possibility of autonomous, or partially autonomous, collection trucks. While there's a lot of things that could mean for the industry, it's obviously too soon to say for sure. It is certain, though, that the industry needs to stay on top of vehicle standards and technological innovation so that drivers and fleet managers aren't caught off guard.