Many cities and towns are either switching, or considering switching, their refuse fleets to natural gas power. In fact, more and more contracts are now specifying that fuel as a requirement for at least part of the fleet. But few cities or towns have started to make their own fuel. That’s what makes the city of Surrey, British Columbia, unique.

Surrey expects to power its natural gas refuse and recycling fleet through renewable natural gas (RNG) as part of a closed-loop system that will be fully implemented by 2014. Officially set to launch on Oct. 1 of this year, the sevenyear project includes three major components: natural gas-powered trucks, a comprehensive city-wide recycling program, and a waste-to-biofuels production facility that will turn organic wastes into a renewable form of fuel to power the vehicles.

Located about 35 min. southeast of Vancouver, Surrey, home to 470,000 residents, is the second largest city in British Columbia. Its contract with BFI Canada for the trucks required natural gas as a condition for approval. BFI will purchase approximately 50 trucks powered by compressed natural gas, which will also be capable of running on renewable natural gas. The vehicles are Mack TerraPro low-entry refuse trucks powered by Cummins Westport ISL engines and Labrie Automizer bodies.

“One of our primary corporate objectives is to decrease our carbon emissions impact stemming from fleet operations,” Robert Costanzo, deputy manager for operations in the city’s engineering department, told Fleet Owner. “A CNG fleet made the most sense given that our secondary objective is to produce our own renewable natural gas from organic waste. In the interim, while our facility is being developed, we will use conventional natural gas from our region’s local gas utility.