Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Green trash: NZ thinks big with electric rubbish trucks

Electric rubbish trucks will be rolled out in New Zealand later this year in a trial by Waste Management which also generates power from landfill gas.

The trial involves battery-powered trucks weighing up to 25 tonnes.

The company generates power from three landfills throughout the country and says the switch to electric vehicles represents "the perfect example of the circular economy."

Waste Management runs more than 200 cars and 800 trucks.

It is already charging six cars at its Redvale landfill in Auckland and now has the first of its first of three diesel trial trucks being converted to electric by a specialist in the Netherlands.

The first waste collection truck to be trialled will be a "box body" inorganic collection vehicle which will start on Auckland streets later this year.

A side-loader waste collection truck - used for residential kerbside wheelie bin pick-ups - is expected to go into use in Auckland before Christmas and another planned for Christchurch early next year.

Tom Nickels, Waste Management NZ managing director, said he couldn't discuss costs of the conversion of the trucks for commercial reasons, because the industry was so competitive.

The company will evaluate their performance over the next six to 12 months once they are on the road.

"The development of battery technology is enabling this transition - over the next five to 10 years we will see most vehicles across the world migrate to plug-in electric power.''

The Redvale landfill electricity station can generate 12MW and power more than 12,000 houses.

We think we can make a significant contribution to New Zealand with the scale of our operations.

"We think this a perfect example of the circular economy."

While the pace of switch to electric cars has quickened over the last five years around the world, powering trucks by battery has been slower because of their weight.

A Waste Management truck being converted to electric in The Netherlands
A Waste Management truck being converted to electric in The Netherlands

But rubbish trucks brake often - about every 15m during a 1200 household run - and batteries are recharged as the vehicle slows down.

"It's the perfect application for regenerative braking."

There were a handful of other waste operators with electric trucks overseas and
Nickels said his company wanted to be an early adopter.

"We'll certainly be well and truly in the first wave. We think we can make a significant contribution to New Zealand with the scale of our operations."

- NZ Herald

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