My take: Talking trash as state’s first electric hauler makes debut

Photo courtesy of DNREC

It’s not every day that a media event features a garbage truck.

But that’s what happened yesterday at an event in New Castle as Evergreen Waste Services and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control introduced the state’s first battery-electric garbage truck.

As noted in a February story on our website, Evergreen added the Mack truck to its fleet, with plans calling for four more E-trash trash trucks by the end of the year. 

Moving into the electric-battery world requires big bucks, and DNREC assisted Evergreen with $1.5 million in the rollout, which includes heavy-duty charging systems. That’s about 45% of the cost of the total project.

The DNREC money comes from a “mitigation” fund, a fancy term for money from the state’s share of a multi-billion dollar settlement with Volkswagen. You might remember that the German vehicle maker employed some trickery in selling “clean diesel” cars that did not live up to their billing.


Electric trucks are considerably more expensive than diesel equipment but come with the promise of lower maintenance and fuel costs. The technology has been around for years, but is just beginning to make its way into the mainstream.

About now, you might wonder how a big, lumbering truck can run on batteries for long. Trash trucks make lot of starts and stops during a day. Something known as regenerative braking sends recharging power back to the batteries, allowing for greater range.

Don’t expect to see a lot of refuse trucks in Delaware anytime soon.

In some areas, refuse hauling is a fiercely competitive business, with national giants like Republic and Waste Management fighting it out with local companies like Evergreen. In that environment, it comes as no surprise that equipment can be on the old side, although we have thankfully seen the end of ancient smoke-belching trucks with bald tires that once made their way into neighborhoods.

Also, electric trucks work best in more densely populated areas that don’t require longer trips to the landfill. That won’t work for now in rural areas.

Further down the road, battery-electric trucks can store electricity once charged at night. Excess power can then be fed back into the grid.

With or without battery power, there’s money to be made from trash.

Last year, Vermont-based Casella bought Canada-based GFL’s Mid-Atlantic operations for more than half a billion dollars. GFlL, known for its neon green trucks and dumpsters was around for a short time before flipping the operation. Both GCI and Casella are publicly traded companies. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.