Attendees to the Northern New England Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA NNE) Technical Session heard from a variety of sources on the advancements in electrifying America’s trucking fleets, from refuse collection to warehousing and distribution. Presenters to the session included:

  • Waste management veterans, Rocco DiRico, New York City’s Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Sanitation and Kevin Roche, CEO of ecomaine;
  • Electric truck representatives, Kyle Burak, Director of Energy Storage at BYD and Gary Lalonde (Director) and Mark McGrew (Senior Manager) at The Lion Co. Electric Trucks; and
  • U.S. EPA Environmental Scientist Gary Rennie

Electric buses and trucks have begun to make significant inroads recently, according to the experts from BYD, with more than 12,000 on the road globally – but only 113 in the United States.  However, Gary Lalonde from Lion noted, “the future is electric.”

In order to realize more rigorous standards for carbon neutrality by 2045, “the adoption of zero emission technology must begin today,” said Mark McGrew.

“There’s no silver bullet or single solution – it’s a lot of little baby steps.  Heavy duty is much more difficult than passenger cars,” added Rocco DiRico, as he singled out infrastructure and building voltage capacity in New York City as one very substantial challenge in this transition.

Gary Rennie of the U.S. EPA detailed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and available grant funding for public and non-profit organizations to move from older diesel engines to newer, cleaner, and more efficiently powered vehicles, touting the waste management industry as one that is poised for great strides in the near future, saying, “refuse trucks represent a great opportunity for diesel emission reduction.”

Given this, ecomaine, with funding from the EPA and Maine Department of Environmental Protection, is poised to purchase two new, all-electric trucks to haul its ash from the organization’s waste-to-energy plant to its nearby landfill.  “ecomaine is in a unique position for these electric trucks,” said Kevin Roche.  “Because we are both the user AND the supplier of electricity through our waste-to-energy plant – and it allows us to pilot this type of vehicle on behalf of all of our 70 member communities at once.”

The six-hour technical session, held at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall, included presentations, networking for SWANA NNE members, and question and answer with attendees.

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