Green refuse trucks to cut carbon emissions by up to a quarter

A Babergh Mid Suffolk bin lorry

Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils are switching their refuse vehicle fleet to hydrotreated vegetable oil power - Credit: Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils

Two Suffolk councils have agreed plans to switch their vehicle fleets to more environmentally friendly sources in a move that could cut their total carbon emissions by up to a quarter.

The cabinet meetings of both Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils this week unanimously approved the switch of its fleet to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) based fuel, a sustainable fuel utilising waste vegetable oil.

Refuse collectors emptying a bin

Refuse collectors from Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils at work - Credit: Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils

The move will mean the councils' fleet emissions will reduce by up to 90%, with fleet emissions representing a quarter of the total CO2 emissions for the councils, marking a significant step towards their goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Mid Suffolk's Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Jessica Fleming, said: "Helping to create bright and healthy futures for the next generation, while protecting the environment, is one of our most important jobs.

Councillor Jessica Fleming said the important of freedom for people needed to be kept in mind. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mid Suffolk Conservative cabinet member for the environment Jessica Fleming said HVO vehicles would help with the drive to be carbon neutral by 2030 - Credit: Archant

“This move to a greener and cleaner fuel for our fleet will bring us significantly closer to achieving our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2030."


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The switch to HVO fuels will require some initial funds of £50,000 each to convert the existing fleet, with a further annual sum of between £56,000 and £97,000 each needed over the next three years for the fuel. But the councils said the new fuel will reduce maintenance costs and extend the life of the vehicles.

Babergh's Conservative cabinet member for the environment, Elisabeth Malvisi, said: "Our fleet enables us to carry out some of our most visible work such as collecting your bin, but it also makes up just over a quarter of our emissions.

Elisabeth Malvisi, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for environment. Picture: BABERGH DISTR

Babergh Conservative cabinet member for the environment Elisabeth Malvisi said refuse collection was one of the most visible areas of council work - Credit: Archant

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“With HVO fuel we can quickly and significantly reduce our emissions, and work towards Babergh’s greener, brighter and healthy future.”

Other options such as electric vehicle refuse trucks and biodiesel fuel were considered but ruled out as not being as effective as the HVO option. There were concerns electric refuse trucks could be an issue in the rural areas of the district where access to charge points was problematic, while biodiesel was not considered cost effective enough.

Dan Pratt, Mid Suffolk councillor said the impact of more cycling should not be underestimated. Pict

Mid Suffolk Green councillor Dr Dan Pratt said he cautiously welcomed the switch to HVO vehicle fuel - Credit: Archant

Councillor Dan Pratt, from Mid Suffolk's opposition Green and Liberal Democrat, group said:  “Reducing the carbon emissions from Babergh and Mid Suffolk’s waste collection fleet was one of the many measures identified by our cross-party environment and climate change task force.

The group cautiously welcomes the switch from diesel to HVO, but the net environmental benefits of this shift depends on whether we can guarantee the ecological sustainability of the HVO source, and the availability of a sustainable HVO supply in the long-term.”

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