The refuse business serves a critical function, collecting garbage from over 75 million homes, 7 million businesses, and 100,000 government enterprises nationwide. But most of the 179,000 garbage trucks that wend their way through our neighborhoods are diesel-fueled and more than 10 years old, making them among the most polluting vehicles on US roads. These vehicles emit large quantities of dangerous particulate matter, smog-forming compounds, and toxic chemicals, posing significant threats to the environment, to the health of residents in the communities they serve, and to the workers who maintain and operate them. They are also notoriously loud.
But there is good news. The study—a follow-up to the groundbreaking research presented in 2002’s Greening Garbage Trucks: New Technologies for Cleaner Air—finds robust growth in the use of alternative fuel refuse trucks in the US and internationally.