And We Mean Anything Into Oil: U.K. Garbage Trucks Run on Trash

By Rachel Cernansky | February 3, 2009 4:42 pm

trashWe’re all for innovative new forms of fuel. And when there’s a hint of irony, it’s all the better.

Last week, SITA UK, a recycling and waste management company, and the Kirklees Metropolitan Council in Northern England unveiled a garbage truck that runs on power produced by the very garbage it collects.

The truck will gather waste from 25 bins that have been newly installed around town, and transport the trash to the Energy from Waste power station and recycling center. There, the refuse will be burned to produce electricity, which is not only used to recharge the battery-operated electric vehicle overnight, but also contributes about 10 megawatts of power to the municipal electric grid every day.

The truck, a modified Ford Transit, runs on a 40kWh lithium-ion battery pack and can reach 50 mph. It has a range of 100 miles and takes six to eight hours to recharge.

Of course, environment-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean “safe”: because it’s electric, the vehicle is just about silent, and could pose a danger for unaware pedestrians. Residents of this small, already-quiet town might need to start looking before crossing the street: a driver of the truck already admitted two near-misses in one morning.

Related Content:
Disco: Anything Into Ethanol
Disco: Dr. 90210 Powers SUV with Liposuctioned Fat

  • Egaeus

    Makes me wonder what happened to thermal depolymerization. It sounded like a great idea when it made news a few years ago, especially when compared to landfills, but I haven’t seen it go anywhere. It seemed a lot more promising than simply burning trash, with it’s associated nastiness.

  • Bob Uppendown

    The truck is built by Smith Electric Vehicles. It’s worth taking a look at the Case Studies page on their website to see some of the other uses to which about 400 of these vehicles have been put in the past year or so. In the 85 years they’ve been in business, they have quietly shipped an estimated 70 thousand electric vehicles worldwide!

  • Mike

    What is the environmental impact of “burning” garbage to produce electricity?

  • Bob Uppendown

    Kirklees argue that their state-of-the-art incinerator (which only burns what cannot be recycled) efficiently restricts emissions.

    As someone who closely follows the progress of EVs, I find it quite useful that Smith now have what amounts to a mobile billboard constantly on show in the middle of Huddersfield, where tens of thousands of commuters and shoppers will get to see an electric vehicle in daily use. With “I am an electric vehicle” signwritten on its sides, along with Smith’s website address.

  • marco

    There’s a company in Boston turning trash into electricity.
    The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) lists 87 municipal waste-to-energy facilities operating in the U.S., primarily in the Northeast. They are able to convert into energy about 13% of the nearly 300 million tons of trash generated by Americans each year.

    entire article here:

  • Pingback: U.K. Garbage Trucks Run on Trash | NewWays for Environmental and Social Change()

  • Data Shredding

    We should have started the green movement 20 years ago we have not chance of making a real difference as india and china waste production increases

  • Shredding

    This sounds like a brilliant idea and hopefully more government vehicles will embrace this technology. I’ve also started to see some hybrid buses, however there is still a massive reliance on petrol-type vehicles and oil companies won’t be so willing to give up their profits. I’m sure they have lobbying firms pushing against policies involving technology like this.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.

See More

Collapse bottom bar