May 24, 2013

Republic Services Reduces Waste with 87 CNG Vehicles

We started with 12 CNG trucks, and now we have 87, including four CNG supervisor pickups. We plan to have our entire Idaho fleet operating on CNG within the next five years.      
Rachele Klein, Republic Services
Business Development Manager
Republic Services is one of the largest waste and recycling companies in the country, hauling more than 100 million tons of refuse annually for 13 million customers. Since the company's founding in 1998, heavy-duty diesel trucks performed the lion's share of the work. But in 2009, that began to change, when Treasure Valley Clean Cities Coordinator Beth Baird knocked on the door of Republic Services' Boise, Idaho, division.

Baird alerted the company to a funding opportunity available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that could catalyze the Boise fleet's transition from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas (CNG). She helped Republic Services develop a proposal for a project that would include the acquisition of 28 CNG refuse and recycling trucks and the development of CNG fueling stations and vehicle maintenance facilities.

Baird and Republic Services teamed up to research and select vehicle manufacturers and fuel providers. Baird helped facilitate the legal legwork that led to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission's issuance of a rule allowing the sale of natural gas as a vehicle fuel. She also helped arrange training for vehicle maintenance technicians and formed a team to develop a campaign to educate community members and other fleets about the benefits of CNG. "We wouldn't have known about the funding, and we may have gone down this road much more slowly if we hadn't had a local person here as an advocate," said Republic Services Business Development Manager Rachele Klein.

The company's time-fill CNG station in Boise was completed in June 2009, and its first CNG trucks started rolling several months later. Three additional stations opened in 2011, including two with public access. The project effectively created a ripple effect of CNG deployment in Idaho and beyond. "We started with 12 CNG trucks, and now we have 87, including four CNG supervisor pickups. We plan to have our entire Idaho fleet operating on CNG within the next five years," Klein said. "The model that stemmed from this partnership was so successful—from a business perspective and an environmental perspective—that we flipped to CNG in Las Vegas; Santa Barbara, California; and Belleview, Washington."

In the Boise area, about a dozen other fleets are now using the CNG stations developed as part of the Republic Services project. One of those is Valley Regional Transit. VRT was on the verge of eliminating a commuter route between Canyon County and Ada County due to rising diesel fuel prices, but the availability of new CNG fueling infrastructure allowed the agency to cost-effectively continue the service using CNG buses. The VRT board plans to have its entire ValleyRide bus fleet operating on CNG by 2016.

"Republic Services' shift to CNG was a huge step in advancing the use of natural gas as a vehicle fuel in Idaho," Baird said. "It has been a great partner in this effort and strong advocate for the fuel, both in our region and across the country."

Photo of Republic Services refuse truck side-loader in action.