Republic Services Quietly Saves the Environment

    Republic Services merged with Allied Waste in 2008, then announced their intended conversion of all their trucks to CNG by 2015.

    According to Louisiana DEQ’s August newsletter, Republic Services General Manager Calvin Ray explained the two reasons why they chose to convert to CNG: “One, it was the right thing to do for the environment, and second, the CNG trucks are extremely quiet and it makes it much better for the neighborhoods and apartment complexes.”

    Republic Services is also benefiting significantly economically. CNG is more cost efficient. It’s a cleaner fuel, so there are fewer oil changes and potential maintenance costs, and CNG is cheaper than diesel.

    Ray estimates that the gas equivalent cost will be $1.80 to $2.00 per gallon for their fleet.

    Republic’s CNG trucks are automatic side loaders, which are one-person trucks with hydraulic lifts. They are air-conditioned, have power steering and are much quieter than a traditional garbage truck. The drivers have specialized training on the CNG trucks, and all drivers participate in a daily morning meeting with their team and supervisors to go over any challenges.

    Republic encountered some obstacles with the differences in CNG trucks and diesel trucks, such as the taller height of the CNG trucks. Because the natural gas tank is on the top of the CNG trucks, they were hitting tree branches that weren’t a problem with Republic’s old trucks. However, Karla Swacker, the Municipal Marketing Manager, told DEQ that Republic is now benefitting from a new sloped wall technology in the CNG trucks that deflects the tree branches.

    Republic is well on their way to meeting their goal of becoming a self-sufficient operation.  They constructed a CNG fueling station with 40 operational fueling ports. The automatic, wirelessly controlled station is managed by Clean Energy. The trucks fuel from 5 pm to 3 am, and can run for 10 ½ hours per tank. Republic also has a diesel fueling station and a fast fueling CNG station. The CNG comes from Entergy.

    The next phase of Republic’s expansion will begin in Spring 2015 when Republic will add enough fueling ports to accommodate all of their trucks. The top of each CNG station has sensors that will automatically shut the entire system down if it detects a leak.

    The warehouses and repair shops for the CNG trucks are specially designed with fans at the top to pull the air out if gas leaks are detected, and they use infrared heaters to avoid open flames.

    “Our safety issue was inexperienced drivers and mechanics who had to learn to do things properly,” said Swacker to L-DEQ. It took several years to get the kinks out, said Ray. “First there were power issues, not powerful enough, and then safety issues had to be worked out. When we started the Republic Corporation we set up a playbook of lessons learned. There are lots and lots of fail safes in the operation and on the trucks.”

    CNG’s economic, environmental and logistical benefits are hard to ignore. Republic Service’s work with CNG provides a great case study of how to begin the CNG conversion process tactfully and successfully.

    “Everyone is looking at CNG now.” said Ray.

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