GFL Environmental has added an electric refuse truck to its fleet in Squamish, B.C., in order to test vehicle functionality in varied climate and terrain conditions
British Columbia residents living between Squamish and Whistler will be seeing a new type of collection truck on garbage day going forward.
GFL Environmental, a Vaughan, Ont.-headquartered waste management company, has put into service a battery-electric refuse truck in Squamish (about an hour north of Vancouver) that will service communities along the Sea-to-Sky Highway up to Whistler.
“There’s a lot of speculation on what the truck should do. The proof is in what it can do, and that’s why [British Columbia] is such a great proving ground for us,” said Tyler Stefure, GFL’s fleet director for Western Canada in a press release.
“It offers different climates and different terrains, so we can run the truck in Squamish and maybe run it in the Lower Mainland or someplace really cold, just to find out how it performs.”
The chassis of GFL’s BEV refuse truck was supplied by Mack Trucks, while Labrie Automizer in Lévis, Que., mounted the body. British Columbia is one of two provinces in Canada that offers a rebate for commercial electric vehicles, in addition to the federal rebate.
Duty cycle testing
“The electric truck is intended to do everything that its gas and diesel counterparts can do,” said Stefure.
“Obviously, battery life is influential so as time goes on, we’ll really put it through its paces and see how it does.”
GFL’s plan is to treat the electric truck like any other vehicle in its fleet — albeit likely with more interest in its performance metrics.
The first phase of service will be to familiarize operators and employees at GFL’s Squamish depot with the electric truck. This includes safe operation and establishing overnight charging protocols as well as understanding vehicle limitations — if any.
“Our location is on the ocean, and our surroundings are very mountainous. Our intention will be to understand how these conditions affect the operation of an electric vehicle,” said Denise Imbeau, general manager of GFL’s Squamish facility.
An early adopter
GFL already has a history with piloting low-emitting vehicles in its fleet.
“Technology is advancing, and this is a step in the right direction. It’s really exciting for GFL to be a part of this advancement,” said Stefure.
The company says 15 per cent of its fleet already runs on compressed natural gas (CNG) and the company has been looking into harvesting landfill gases to be “converted to pipeline renewable natural gas (RNG) for use as an alternative fuel.”
And in the U.S., where GFL operates in 23 states, the company was this year “awarded the Gainesville, Florida solid waste collection contract which will be serviced by 30 to 40 BEVs starting in 2023: the largest single-site BEV-serviced waste contract in North America,” according to GFL’s most recent sustainability report.
In Canada though, the city of Squamish is pleased to be one of the first communities with an electric refuse truck — even if it is a small order relative to Gainsville.
“Environmentalism is appreciated in the natural beauty of Squamish and the District of Squamish has been quite vocal on electrical adoption,” said Stefure.
“They have expressed interest in seeing what a private hauler can do. I think this truck will get a lot of attention for us in Squamish.”