BIN lorries across Stratford district could soon run on vegetable oil.
Stratford District Council’s Cabinet approved the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for its fleet of refuse collection vehicles when they met on Monday.
The use of HVO is geared at being a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the diesel currently used by the refuse vehicles but will come at a cost of up to £250,000 a year.
In 2019, SDC declared a climate emergency and as a result drew up a list of climate ambitions headed SDC’s Climate Emergency Action Programme.
Top of the list is to become a Net Zero Carbon Council by 2025 and to do this the carbon emissions emitted by SDC’s estate and operations need to be reduced.
A carbon emissions report for 2021/2022 found that the total carbon footprint of SDC was 3,293 tonnes of CO2.
And most significantly, fuel use in the council’s refuse collection vehicles accounted for 1,147 tonnes of CO2 – or 35 per cent of SDC’s overall carbon footprint.
The decarbonisation of RCV fleets is difficult for several reasons, SDC reports. Converting the refuse vehicles to electric is out of the question due to cost and running them on hydrogen fuel cells is not practical as the bin collection routes are longer than current battery technologies can support.
One solution is the use of biofuel such as vegetable oil or HVO. Biofuel is a fuel that is derived from biomass – a renewable energy source generated from wood, plants, and other organic matter.
HVO would be far less polluting but its use in all 28 of SDC’s refuse vehicles would be a more expensive option than diesel.
Quotes provided by Biffa, SDC’s waste collection contractor, show that the use of HVO rather than diesel would cost approximately an extra £196,400 per year.
There is also a one off £2,000 fixed cost associated with cleaning the existing diesel tank at Avenue Farm depot.
An alternative option to HVO considered by councillors was to offset the carbon by planting more trees.
The carbon that would be absorbed throughout the lifespan of the trees would then be calculated and subtracted from SDC’s overall carbon footprint.
Offsetting the amount of carbon generated by the SDC’s RCV fleet would incur a financial cost of approximately £9,000 per year, but a report that went before Cabinet warned that SDC could be accused of “green-washing”.
Councillors voted to approve the move to HVO as an alternative fuel in its RCV fleet and the matter will now be passed onto SDC’s environmental portfolio holder Coun Lorraine Grocott to investigate further.
SDC leader Coun Susan Juned said: “There’s no easy solution, but HVO can be a straightforward replacement for conventional fossil fuel diesel with no impact on operational requirements. It doesn’t need specialist storage equipment and the vehicles won’t need any changes. Critically the HVO we’d be using will be produced from appropriately certified sustainable sources.”