“Surrey will have a refuse and recycling fleet by 2014 powered … by a renewable form of natural gas [biomethane] made from the city’s own wastes.”
Surrey, the second largest city in the Canadian province of British Columbia, is implementing a ground-breaking municipal waste management and transportation initiative as part of its sustainable future plans. Their endeavours have been reported on by the New York-based non-profit environmental organization Energy Vision, entitled The City of Surrey: Setting the Pace for Sustainable Transportation, authored by Joanna D. Underwood, President of Energy Vision, and Michael S. Lerner.
According to Underwood, “By implementing several key steps, Surrey will have a refuse and recycling fleet by 2014 powered, not by diesel fuel, but by a renewable form of natural gas [biomethane] made from the city’s own wastes.”
Surrey’s Three-Pronged Waste Management Plan
In step one of Surrey’s seven-year contract, which goes into effect in October 2012, the City has required (and is the first Canadian municipality to do so) use of natural gas trucks as a condition of its Request For Proposal (RFP). The bid winner, BFI Canada, will purchase 70-75 natural gas trucks to perform the service.
In step two, the City is launching a carefully planned initiative for collecting separated organics from Surrey’s 470,000 residents and its businesses.
Finally, the collected organics will go to a new organics biofuel facility, due to begin operation in 2014, where the gases produced by these wastes will be processed into fuel for BFI’s trucks.
A Model for Other Municipalities
Energy Vision explores and promotes ways to make a transition in the U.S., Canada, and worldwide from the transportation sector’s virtually complete reliance on petroleum-derived fuels to the clean, carbon-free, renewable fuels that will be needed for a sustainable future. “Surrey’s ambitious initiative,” according to Underwood, “is the first we have seen in the U.S. or Canada, in which municipal officials have assumed a leadership role in orchestrating this type of closed loop system.” “The plan,” adds Lerner, “will mean cleaner air for Surrey residents, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 90 percent, and the conversion of some 65,538 tons of yard and kitchen waste – the bulk of the city’s expensive waste burden – into a clean fuel solution. This initiative is also geared to produce economic benefits, especially because of the much lower price of natural gas fuel.”
According to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, “We believe it’s important for governments to demonstrate leadership by advancing new technologies, reducing energy consumption and creating healthier communities. In Surrey we have focused on making the right choices and taking concrete actions to advance sustainability in our operations and in our community.”
Adds Energy Vision’s Underwood, “Two of the greatest environmental challenges facing our world are the overwhelming burden of wastes that human communities create and the dangerous loading of our upper atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases. Canada and the U.S. are among the top five generators of municipal solid waste per capita among industrialized nations as well as among the top 10 generators of greenhouse gases. These two privileged countries have an opportunity and a responsibility to be leaders in living sustainably. By 2014, Surrey will have slashed its total municipal waste stream by 75% through recycling (23%) and now by separated organics (51%), while use of these organics to make fuel eliminates reliance on oil and brings the greenhouse gases related to its refuse fleet almost to zero. If we are to do our part to pass this planet on in healthy shape to future generations, this is the scale of change needed in cities and communities across our countries.”
“We hope that municipal officials, companies in the waste, fuels, and transportation industries, transportation planners, policymakers, and environmentalists will look carefully at the Surrey waste management plan. It shows that municipal leaders can become powerful game changers in helping shape a sustainable future for their communities, their countries, and our world.”
A copy of the full report, The City of Surrey: Setting the Pace for Sustainable Transportation, is available to download at no cost from EV’s website.
In May last year, Surrey City Council passed an innovative new fuel initiative requiring all new service stations in the city provide at least one alternative fuel source, such as hydrogen, compressed natural gas (CNG).
(This article primarily compiled using information from an Energy Vision press release)