Natural gas-powered garbage trucks service Orem

Brian Eberhard operates one of Orem's new waste desposal trucks that runs entirely off of natural gas.
Brian Eberhard operates one of Orem’s new waste desposal trucks that runs entirely off of natural gas.

The City of Orem commemorated its new garbage trucks on Tuesday, Nov. 13, making Orem the first in Utah County to have an entirely natural gas-powered fleet.

Eight natural gas trucks went into service in July and allow for more efficient trash collection. These new trucks will help offset the fluctuations in traditional gas prices for the city, passing these savings off on the residents of Orem.

Fuel costs for the trucks will be substantially reduced. Gordon Larsen, supervisor of NGV Operations for Questar Gas, said, “Waste Management probably pays $0.65 to $0.70 per gallon for natural gas compared to $3.70 or $3.80 for diesel.”

As well as being cheaper, these natural-gas trucks create jobs. “It’s a U.S. product. We’re not importing it. Almost all the natural gas used here comes from Utah or Wyoming,” Larsen said. “It’s American jobs, American fuel, better emissions. It’s a win-win all around.”

Greg Walkenhorst, with public sector services of Waste Management, said “Cost of fuel and maintaining the trucks is going to be less,” Waste Management is able to offer more competitive pricing.

Larsen said natural gas is methane, which means there is only one carbon atom; 80 percent of what is being burned is hydrogen. These properties result in energy that is much cleaner for the environment.

Walkenhorst said, “compressed natural gas powered trucks emit less smog-forming nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases.”

Nitrogen oxide is reduced by up to 50 percent, greenhouse gases by 25 percent and carbon dioxide by 80 percent.

Natural gas-powered trucks are the future of waste collection, and Waste Management will no longer be purchasing diesel trucks.

According to Walkenhorst, in one year, Waste Management’s 1,000 natural-gas trucks will displace 8 million gallons of petroleum and eliminate 41,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

These new trucks are 50 percent quieter than the traditional diesel trucks, and residents have taken notice.

“We’re having residents call us and tell us they would wait to hear the truck coming down the street to put their garbage out that are being missed now because these trucks run so quietly,” Walkenhorst said.

Mayor Jim Evans commemorated the occasion by operating the arm of the truck and was excited for Orem to take this next step.

“It will continue to promote us to being mindful of trying to to a better job to do our part for the environment,” Evans said. “We need to be good stewards of our area, our community, our earth, and, in Orem, this is a way to do our part.”

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