6th March 2021

Electric truck trials as waste exports cut

Purpose-built electric rubbish collection truck, the same type trialled in Somerset.

Nearly all Somerset recycling stays in the UK, latest Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) figures show.

Some 98% of the 103,000 tonnes collected kerbside or at recycling sites in the past eight months stayed in the UK, compared to just under 90% in all of last year.

Plastic performance is even better, with less than 1% of the 3,135 tonnes collected in eight months going overseas.

The impressive figures are thanks to residents sorting their recycling and hard work by SWP’s new collections contractor, SUEZ, to find more domestic reprocessors.

Somerset Waste Board’s Joint Scrutiny Panel heard yesterday (10th Feb) that SWP plans to trial electric collection vehicles in its efforts to tackle climate change and protect the environment.

SWP will also develop a “reuse” strategy and explore the potential for solar or wind power generation at its depots.

SWP Managing Director Mickey Green said: “We have a starring role to play in the climate emergency work that all partners are signed up to. What SWP does, how we do it, and how well we do it, can all have a major impact.

“It’s early days for things like an electric fleet and depot developments, but recycling more and keeping that recycling in the UK is an immediate win. Residents sorting recycling really helps us to keep it in the UK and I thank everyone for their efforts.”

Together with SUEZ, SWP is looking at the possible use of electric supervisor vans and rubbish collection vehicles.

Last month, SUEZ used Somerset to trial a purpose-built electric rubbish collection truck. There are also plans to trial a ‘retro-fitted’ rubbish truck – a traditional diesel trucks converted to electric by the manufacturer – later in the year.

These are still developing technologies and particularly challenging in a large rural county where supporting infrastructure is limited and vehicles need a long range. Any investment will be subject to Somerset Waste Board approval of a business case.