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DOWN UNDER TRUCKING: garbage trucks go electric

Pictured: a Cleanaway garbage truck; Photo: Cleanaway

Signs of the impending transition to electric vehicles continue to gather apace. The authorities in the Western Australian City of Fremantle are trialing an electric garbage truck. “So what?” a reader might reasonably say. But when the operator of the electric truck is Cleanaway, which operates 4,000 heavy vehicles across Australia, the potential fuel savings are huge. Read on for more. In other news: mandatory data sharing; engine fuel lines could catch fire; Federal government takes over; biofuel boost; truck-side under-run protection; National Freight Data Hub.

Company could save up to A$150 million yearly by swapping to electric trucks

A new electric-powered garbage truck, “EVie,” will be trundling around the streets of Fremantle in November as part of a four-week trial.

City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettit pointed out that conventional garbage trucks use 500 liters of diesel fuel and produce more than 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every week.

At the time of writing (Friday November 1), the retail price of diesel per liter in the Perth / Fremantle metro area ranged from 132.7 Australian cents (US$0.92) to 166.9 Australian cents (US$1.15), according to Fuelwatch. The mean average price, based on about 350 data points from the local area, is 149.5 Australian cents (US$1.03).

So the potential fuel savings are great. That’s A$663.50 per week of fuel costs saved at the low end of the fuel price range; A$747.35 when priced at the average and up to A$834.50 at the high end. Over the course of a year (presuming a 52-week working year), that’s a yearly saving of anywhere between A$34,502 to A$43,394 per truck.

But that’s not all. The company managing the trial is Australian Stock Exchange-listed waste management company, Cleanaway (ASX: CWY). It said in its July 2019 annual report that it operates a fleet 4,950 vehicles.

“With almost 5,000 vehicles on the road each day servicing homes and businesses all over Australia, we’re really excited to be working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of doing things more sustainably,” said State Municipal Manager Daniel Le Provost.

However, according to the Cleanaway annual report, about 70% are heavy vehicles. That means that 3,465 of so Cleanaway’s vehicles are “heavy,” presumably garbage trucks.

If all of those 3,465 trucks were magically converted overnight to electric power then, using the Fremantle and Perth fuel prices, Cleanaway would avoid spending anywhere between A$119.55 million to A$150.36 million on diesel fuel. About 90 million tonnes of diesel fuel would not be burnt and 234,234 metric tonnes (258,199 U.S. short tons) of carbon dioxide would not be emitted.

There would be other health benefits, as combustion of fuel produces air pollution such as particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrous and sulfur oxides, among other things, all of which are toxic to plant, animal and human health. Electric garbage trucks are a lot quieter than diesel-powered trucks so they are a boon to the ears (and nerves) of the local population too.

Of course, the cost of electricity to charge the trucks would have to be deducted. EVie takes about 10 hours to charge overnight and can operate for about eight hours, although that will vary according to numerous factors such as distance traveled and driving styles. The cost of electricity in Australia varies greatly by location too.

At the moment EVie is charged from the local grid. The City of Fremantle has a policy of carbon neutrality and currently all carbon is offset by the purchase of carbon credits. However, the city is planning to move to 100% renewable solar power. Meanwhile, the South Fremantle Solar Farm, which will be constructed on contaminated land that is otherwise unusable, has just passed its final regulatory hurdle and is due to be built in early 2020. The farm will supply renewable power to the City of Fremantle.

Mandatory vehicle data sharing on the way

Australia’s federal government is “committed” to introducing a mandatory information sharing scheme for motor vehicle service and repair information.

The scheme will mandate that all service and repair information that car manufacturers share with their dealership networks must be available for independent repairers to purchase. A list of safety, security and environmental information that can only be released to “appropriate businesses” will be a feature of the scheme.

Unsafe! Urgent safety alert issued on Daimler Truck and Bus vehicles!

It’s bad news for automotive retailer Daimler Truck and Bus of Australia as its Freightliner Coronado and Argosy Trucks equipped with a DD15TC EPA07/ADR80/03 engine have been hit with a safety warning.

According to the regulator, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, “Fuel may leak from the engine’s high pressure fuel rail feed lines. If a fuel leak occurs, this may cause a subsequent engine fire, which could result in serious injury to vehicle occupants and other road users.”

Owners can get in touch with their dealers to have the high pressure fuel rail feed lines and supporting hardware replaced, free of charge.

National regulator takes over from VicRoads

Australia’s National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) will take over compliance and enforcement services in the Australian state of Victoria. The takeover is described as the next step in “delivering a nationally consistent approach to compliance and enforcement activities for heavy vehicles,” by the regulator.

About 54 heavy vehicle compliance staff employed by VicRoads will join the NHVR and they will have the same authority to stop trucks to check for compliance with a range of laws.

Biofuel gets a boost from grain grower CBH

Agri-cooperative CBH Group, which is owned and controlled by over 4,000 Western Australian grain growers, is supplying certified-sustainable malting barley to international biofuel customers.

CBH says that its Marketing and Trading division has been accredited to access the European Union (EU) biofuel market through the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme since 2010. The objective of the scheme is to contribute to the implementation of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production of “all kinds” of biomass in global supply chains.

CBH will offer a premium of $5 per tonne (equivalent to 2,204.6 U.S. pounds) on a “limited number of malting barley tonnes with ISCC Plus accreditation.”

“Our partnership with growers to provide ISCC-accredited canola to the valuable EU biofuel market has been a success for everyone involved and, with growing demand for sustainably produced grain around the world, we see a real opportunity to build on this success for barley growers. The trial is open for Kwinana and Albany port zone canola growers who meet ISCC PLUS audit requirements,” the CBH said.

Australian Trucking Association releases side under-run protection guidelines

New technical advice has been released by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) on side under-run protection in response to industry demand.

According to the ATA, Side under-run protection devices reduce the chance of a cyclist or pedestrian falling under the wheels of a truck.

The guidance explains how to correctly install the equipment and how to fit it to various kinds of prime movers and rigid trucks.

National Freight Data Hub discussion paper released

Michael McCormack, who is both the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, has marked the release of the National Freight Data Hub. McCormack said that access to better data means “a more productive and resilient freight sector.”

“A well-designed Hub will improve access to and sharing of valuable freight location and performance data,” he said.

Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz added, “Enhanced access to freight data helps industry, governments and others streamline day-to-day freight operations, make better investment decisions and evaluate the performance of Australia’s freight system.”

The federal government has committed A$8.5 million ($5.87 million) to the design of the hub. About A$5.2 million will we used for data collection, protection, dissemination and hosting. Another A$3.3 million will be used to set up a freight data exchange pilot to allow industry to access freight data in real time; funds will also be used to survey road usage for freight purposes.