WHEELING, IL - Waste Management of Illinois raised its commitment to natural gas-powered garbage and recycling trucks on May 24, when the company launched a new filling station for compressed natural gas (CNG) in the Chicago area.

Joining Waste Management were officials from north suburban communities, the state of Illinois, the Gas Technology Institute, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) Coalition. The latter group is a voluntary organization launched by the U.S. Department of Energy to encourage the use of clean fuels and clean vehicle technologies in the Chicago metropolitan area. 

The new facility is equipped with 40 filling bays to fuel Waste Management CNG collection vehicles. The company currently operates six CNG-powered vehicles in Chicago’s north suburban communities and is awaiting delivery of 10 additional CNG vehicles this summer. Waste Management of Illinois plans to increase its purchase of CNG-powered vehicles going forward.

The natural gas is conveyed to the facility by pipe from a NICOR gas main nearby.

“We congratulate Waste Management for taking another major step in demonstrating its commitment to the environment by implementing natural gas-powered refuse haulers and a natural gas refueling station at its Wheeling facility,” said Lisa Bonnett, interim director for the Illinois EPA. “Clean-burning natural gas is a great way to significantly reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks and help our state meet its air quality goals and further our energy independence.”

“We have made the commitment to use more and more clean-burning CNG-powered collection trucks in the Chicago area,” added Steve Batchelor, Waste Management’s area vice president for Illinois and Indiana. “Our Wheeling facility will give us the direct capability to fuel our growing CNG fleet in the northern suburbs, lower our exhaust emissions, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It’s a good step for our operations and a positive environmental contribution to the communities we serve.”

Waste Management is embracing clean fuel technology across North America and has set a goal to lower overall emissions by 15 percent and increase the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 15 percent by the year 2020. 

Waste Management’s CNG-fueled trucks deliver nearly zero air particulates and 23 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The engines run quieter than traditional diesel engines, reducing noise during collection operations on community streets. 

The trucks, which use a “slow-fill” procedure to achieve greater engine efficiency, carry approximately 50 gallons of CNG. This capacity allows them to run 10 to 12 hours and complete a typical day’s waste or recycling collection route.

The Wheeling facility is the company’s first CNG filling station in the Chicago area, and plans are under way for a second Chicago-area site at the company’s operations in Chicago’s western suburbs. That is expected to start operations late this year.

Waste Management’s fleet of about 1,000 CNG vehicles is the largest in North America. The company expects to spend up to $500 million per year on its fleet and heavy equipment over the next decade.