The City of Winnipeg doesn’t appear set to trash its diesel garbage and recycling trucks in favour of greener electric models just yet. However, the option could be more affordable within a few years, a new report notes.
The public service report doesn’t call for immediate action on the idea, warning electric collection trucks are still quite new to the market.
"The new technology comes at a much higher cost and unconfirmed variables/impacts to operations," writes Michael Gordichuk, manager of solid waste services, in the report.
Gordichuk notes an electric-powered garbage fleet would be expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower fuel costs and cut maintenance costs (since the vehicles have fewer moving parts).
However, it would come at a price. Electric garbage trucks cost about $550,000 each, or twice the average $275,000 tab for a diesel model. And the city would also need charging stations to power them.
Gordichuk predicts making the switch could force the city to require more vehicles to serve the same collection routes, due to potentially lengthy charging times and the fact large batteries could leave less cargo space for trash in electric models.
Overall, the report estimates making the full move for all of Winnipeg’s current garbage collection contracts would cost the city about $46.4 million.
However, Gordichuk notes the price of heavy-duty electric vehicles is expected to drop by 2025, the year the city’s two largest garbage collection contracts expire.
The report also notes electric waste trucks will be considered as part of a zero-emission vehicle strategy within Winnipeg’s Transportation Master Plan. Council is expected to vote on the transportation plan in spring 2022.
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of council’s environment committee, first raised the idea of requiring future garbage and recycling collection contracts to use at least some electric vehicles in November, by asking for a report to determine how feasible that might be.
On Monday, Mayes said he was pleased by the suggestion it could become more practical within a few years.
"It’s not going to be decided any time soon, but it’s one more possibility for climate change mitigation," he said. "If we can move to electric buses, I would think we can move to electric garbage and recycle trucks."
The St. Vital councillor said, however, he’s not convinced council can afford to double its spending on garbage trucks right now.
"It sounds like this maybe will come together at the right time, that the technology is going to get cheaper over the next couple of years and then we could do it without doubling the current spending," he said.
The report will be discussed by the environment committee Friday.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.