Electric Dreams: Council makes huge commitment to eco-friendly bin lorries

Manchester City Council is to replace almost half of its refuse collection vehicles with emission-free electric alternatives.

Following agreement on funding with the Council, Biffa - which holds the contract for waste collection and street cleaning in the city - has placed an order for 27 new electric refuse collection vehicles (e-RCVs) to replace diesel wagons which have reached the end of their natural lifespans.

The move is a big step towards delivering the Council's zero carbon action plan which aims to halve its direct carbon emissions by 2025 as part of a wider drive to make Manchester zero carbon by 2038 at the latest in response to the climate change emergency. The switch to electric eRCVs will save around 900 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, cutting around 4% of the Council's current direct annual emissions.

The commitment will cost the Council £9.787m, marginally more than it would have cost for a like-for-like replacement with diesel vehicles but as well as the clear environmental benefits the cost of the new vehicles over their 10 year expected lifespan, the cost difference  will be largely offset by energy savings and the availability of grants.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "As a council we've said all along that we will have to do things very differently to realise our ambition to dramatically cut carbon emissions.

"We're proud, together with Biffa, that our waste collection service is in the forefront of the forward-thinking response to the climate change challenge and we hope it will inspire others to follow suit.

"The only difference to the new service that residents should notice is that the new vehicles are quieter and cleaner."

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Executive Member for Environment, said: "This major investment in new electric bin lorries is a great example of the council's commitment to playing its full part in tackling climate change and will also contribute to better air quality.

"We've seen during the coronavirus lockdown how less pollution and better air quality benefits everyone.

"Climate change is an urgent challenge which we are getting on with addressing."

Roger Edwards, Managing Director, Municipal Division at Biffa, said: "This latest development in our longstanding partnership with Manchester City Council demonstrates Biffa’s commitment to being at the forefront of the electric refuse collection vehicles innovation.

"Embracing this technology forms a key part of our group wide sustainability strategy and target to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. We look forward to this project with Manchester and are confident it will be the first of many of its kind across the country as the UK sees the multiple benefits that electric refuse vehicles can bring.”

The Council and Biffa were supported and advised on the purchase by the Energy Saving Trust. The overall cost of the vehicles is being reduced through government Plug-in grants designed to encourage a switch to electric vehicles.

The new vehicles will arrive and start operating in the autumn. The order being placed with Blackburn-based manufacturer Electra, a leading company producing heavy electric trucks in collaboration with the largest truck manufacturers in the world.

Sid Sadique, Chair of Electra Commercial Vehicles, said: “This has been an eighteen month project in partnership with Manchester City Council and Biffa, with an Electra refuse collection vehicle being on trial in the city for eighteen months. The trial proved that a fully electric vehicle does the same job as its diesel equivalent with no compromise on payload or operation with the benefit of zero tailpipe emissions."

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