MIAMI – Beverage container recycler UBCR LLC is partnering with Ryder System Inc. in a Michigan natural gas fleet project that includes 16 heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, upgrades to two maintenance facilities, and the construction of two new natural gas fueling stations. 

UBCR was formed out of a joint venture between Schupan and Sons Inc. and Tomra North America. The company specializes in collecting, transporting and processing aluminum cans, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and glass beverage containers from Michigan's largest grocery retailers. 

The natural gas project is partially funded by a grant to UBCR through the Michigan Clean Cities Coalition. When complete, the fleet conversion effort will displace 380,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually with domestically produced low-carbon natural gas.

Through the project, UBCR will convert its entire 16-vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas vehicles, leased from and maintained by Ryder. To support UBCR's fleet operations, Ryder will retrofit two of its existing maintenance facilities in Livonia and Grand Rapids, Mich., for the proper and safe indoor servicing of natural gas vehicles. This is Ryder's first natural gas project with UBCR and the latest in a series of new natural gas vehicle projects with customers in various markets, including Southern California and Arizona.

"As a leading recycling company, this important carbon reduction initiative complements our longstanding growth strategy which is grounded in sustainability, and Ryder's alternative fuel expertise and infrastructure in the market were key factors driving our decision to select them as our fleet partner," said Marc Schupan, CEO for Schupan & Sons Inc. "Ryder is making it easier to jumpstart our sustainable transportation program and convert our entire UBCR fleet to abundant, clean, and efficient natural gas."

"Ryder became the first fleet provider to offer heavy-duty natural gas vehicles for the leasing and rental industry through our groundbreaking natural gas vehicle project with the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) in Southern California," added Robert Sanchez, president of global fleet management solutions for Ryder. "This project in Michigan leverages that experience and demonstrates our ability to bring real-world environmental benefits to other markets."

UBCR is also working with DTE Energy to construct fueling stations in Wixom and Grand Rapids, Mich. The Grand Rapids fueling location will provide public-access natural gas fueling, while the Wixom location will serve as a dedicated station to support UBCR's fleet operations.