Council to invest in new veg-fuelled recycling vehicles


Recycling lorries across East Cambridgeshire could soon be running on vegetable oil.

East Cambridgeshire District Council plans to buy 10 new eco-friendly recycling vehicles - which will be converted to run on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

HVO generates 90 per cent less carbon than a traditional diesel fuel vehicle helping the Council make significant savings in its bid to become net carbon neutral by 2040.

HVO is made from feedstock such as vegetable oils and waste fats which is processed to produce a very clean burning fuel. 

The Council is expected to agree the £2 million funding needed to buy the vehicles at its Operational Services Committee meeting on 27 March. If approved the new fleet is expected to be on the road early in 2024.

The new vehicles plus the remainder of the collection fleet will also be fitted with in-cab technology to help East Cambs Street Scene (ECSS), which runs the refuse collection on behalf of the Council, deliver a more efficient service for residents.

This will enable ECSS and the Council to record and view real time information relating to the completion of waste collection and delivery rounds. This will provide crews with the data they need to undertake rounds more efficiently, help identify properties with assisted bin collections and reduce the number of missed bins.

For example, if a customer reports a missed bin online, the cab driver can be directly alerted and, if possible, the crew can clear the missed bin on the same day. The current paper-based process can take up to 48 hours before a missed bin is cleared.

Cllr Anna Baily, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “At East Cambridgeshire District Council we are determined our actions reflect the fact we want a cleaner, greener East Cambridgeshire.

“Our existing fleet of recycling lorries currently accounts for two thirds of the Council’s carbon emissions. So, when they needed to be replaced it made perfect sense to opt for a greener alternative.

“I am also very supportive of the £34,000 investment in new in-cab technology which will help ECSS to deliver a more efficient and responsive service for residents.”

While the Council’s ambition is to be able to run on HVO 100 per cent of the time, each vehicle will have the ability to run on HVO in addition to traditional diesel fuels.

This helps the Council to be mindful of costs and gives ECSS the option to run the vehicles on diesel or a mix of HVO and diesel if it is significantly cheaper to do so.

The Council’s current waste fleet is nine years old and in 2020/21 used over 270,000 litres of diesel and emitted around 860 tonnes of CO2. They are therefore responsible for two thirds of the Council’s entire emissions.

The Council intends to purchase the vehicles and lease them back to ECSS, with interest of 5% on the capital outlay, which in turn helps generate further income for the Council and its residents.