London food waste converters Bio Collectors has retrofitted seven of its collection vehicles to run on fuel made from food waste, prompted by the mayor of London’s plans to improve air quality in the capital.
Bio Collectors has a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station using biomethane located inside the M25. It is committed to converting its remaining 18 vehicles to run on CNG within the next two years.
The company said CNG is a more environmentally friendly method of powering heavy goods vehicles than diesel. The gas produced by an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant is created entirely from food waste.
London’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) operates within the pre-existing congestion charge zone. It requires vehicles to meet an emissions standard or pay a fee.
While CNG vehicles will still need to pay the congestion charge, they will avoid the additional ULEZ levy.
Managing director Paul Killoughery said: “We welcome the introduction of ULEZ as it will improve air quality in London. Our biogas-powered vehicles will play their part in lowering emissions in London without the added implication of having to generate electricity, which may not be so clean.
“By fuelling them with the food waste we collect, we can ensure that all our services are ready for the environmental challenges of the future. Bio Collectors is closing the waste loop in London and turning food waste into a valuable and sustainable fuel.”
Ahead of the introduction of ULEZ, Bio Collectors did look into the feasibility of converting its 25-strong fleet to electric – such vehicles are exempt from the charge and road fuel tax. However, electric vehicles in the payloads the company needed were not available, and it found that, to charge just one vehicle, would take all night and require significant space to charge the whole fleet at once.
Instead, Bio Collectors decided to use CNG produced through AD at its self-sufficient plant in London. It produces enough electricity to power itself and feed back into the national grid. A CNG pump can refill a truck as quickly as one on a traditional petrol forecourt.
Killoughery added: “We have long championed an environmentally-friendly attitude, with that mentality forming the basis of what we do – AD is the most effective way of processing and recycling food waste with the least harmful impacts. Our decision to convert our fleet to CNG fuel further consolidates our stance and we are proud to lead the charge ahead of ULEZ.”
Bio Collectors collects food waste from businesses within the M25 and describes itself as “London’s largest independent” food waste collector. Its AD plant in Surrey processes up to 100,000 tonnes a year of food waste, capable of generating the equivalent of 6MW gas and 1.7MW of electricity hourly.
This article was amended at 4pm on 8 April to clarify the exemption from the ULEZ charge.