How a Garbage Truck Could Do Its Part Against Climate Change

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While there has been an increased demand for passenger electric vehicles (EVs), that demand is just starting to carry over to commercial trucks.
To encourage the growth of cleaner commercial trucks, the state government of North Carolina has incentive programs for cities willing to make the switch to electric. The City of Wilmington plans to cash in on this program, and do its part to combat climate change.
A NYC garbage truck turns onto Broadway during the evening.
Electrifying garbage trucks will be a big step towards greener transportation.

Wilmington's new electric garbage truck

Wilmington recently announced that they’ll be the first city in the Tar Heel state to use an electric garbage truck. However, there’s such strong demand for electric garbage trucks that there’s currently a back order delay. It’s unclear when Wilmington will receive their cleaner and quieter trucks.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality awarded the city a grant of $270,586 to make the switch. The grant program is expected to remove 21 diesel-powered commercial trucks statewide, as reported by Port City Daily.
The decision came from a unanimous city council vote. The main motive being that the city plans to have all government vehicles be emission-free by 2050 in their effort to fight climate change.

What makes garbage trucks such big polluters?

Garbage trucks are normally equipped with diesel engines and known for being noisy and smelly behemoths.
Part of the reason why garbage trucks are such noisy polluters is the frequent stopping and going. Garbage trucks tend to get an average fuel economy of just three miles per gallon, as reported by Quartz. A single garbage truck will have 20 times more carbon emissions than the average U.S. home.
This is part of the appeal of electric garbage trucks. Not only are they cleaner from an air quality perspective, but they’re also much quieter.
Garbage trucks typically produce 85 to 100 decibels of noise, as reported by Hearing Wellness. In some cases, they can be as loud as jackhammers. They are such noisy beasts, that most garbage truck workers are highly encouraged to wear ear protection to prevent serious hearing damage.

How much will electric garbage trucks cost?

After accounting for the grant, the truck will cost over $315,000, per Port City Daily. On top of that, it’ll cost another $28,000 for charging equipment. The cost of a traditional diesel garbage truck is about $183,000.
On the surface, it seems like diesel garbage trucks are much cheaper. But we're neglecting a few key expenses: fuel and maintenance. As the electric garbage truck has fewer moving parts, it will have substantially lower maintenance costs.
The budget planners in Wilmington expect the savings from fuel and maintenance to offset the extra cost in five years. As the life expectancy of the truck is 12 years, it will be cheaper than its diesel counterpart in the long run.
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