Two refuse collection trucks have been 'upcycled' to reduce carbon emissions in central London

You can upcycle clothes. You can upcycle furniture. Why not cars?

Or refuse collection vehicles, to be precise. This was the challenge undertaken by Veolia and Westminster City Council. In an effort to improve air quality in central London, the global resource management company and Council worked together on a project to upcycle two refuse collection vehicles that were nearing retirement age.

Backed by a grant from Innovate UK, they developed a new electric engine, one that could replace the truck’s previous diesel model and also solve the current electric vehicle conundrum of poor battery longevity. The new engines have been designed only to supply power when the vehicles are active. This means energy is preserved and there is enough to support such power-draining functions as frequent bin lifts and multiple stops and starts.

As a result, the vehicles can now complete an entire shift without producing any carbon emissions at all. The two refuse collection vehicles – or electric Refuse Collection Vehicles (eRCVs), as they are now known – will be trialled on the streets of Westminster for two years, in the hope this will revolutionise the green credentials of refuse and recycling collections. Similar trials are taking place in Sheffield with two other upcycled RCVs.

UK to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

“By converting existing vehicles and trialling alternative fleet solutions with forward-thinking local authority partners like Westminster City Council, we are not only preserving resources but are lowering emissions and creating greener cities,” Gavin Graveson, executive vice president for Veolia UK and Ireland said.

Cllr Tim Mitchell, Westminster City Council’s deputy leader, added: “Tackling pollution in London is an on-going battle, and this pilot is just one of the many ways we’re making our daily operations cleaner and greener.

I am proud to see electric vehicle innovation like this out on the streets of Westminster, keeping our borough clean without sacrificing air quality.”

A net-zero emissions target has been set by the British government for 2050.

More about: | Future London Clean Air | Future London

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