Fuel efficiency guidelines reach recycling industry

Fuel efficiency guidelines reach recycling industry

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

Feb. 26, 2014

Stricter fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks could have ripple effects in the recycling industry.

In remarks at a Safeway Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, President Barack Obama announced the U.S EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) would work on the new standards "to take us well into the next decade."

No specific fuel efficiency targets were announced in the president's statement. But more details should emerge in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, to be released by March of 2015, with finalized standards issued in 2016 and going into effect in 2019.

Some recycling professionals have been critical of earlier efforts by regulators to boost fuel efficiency in the commercial realm.

A first set of standards, which went into effect this year, required recycling, yard debris and garbage trucks – belonging to the "vocational" category of trucks – to turn toward low rolling resistance tires. The change, according to Chaz Miller of the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA), flew in the face of a National Academy of Sciences study that questioned the value of the new tires for trucks making frequent stops, including haulers.

"Needless to say, EPA and [DOT's] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) chose to make the use of low rolling resistance tires the only requirement for vocational tires in the first rulemaking," Miller, who serves as NW&RA's director of policy and advocacy, said. "I remain amazed at the indifference of EPA and NHTSA to the realities of vocational trucks."

Long haul or tractor trailer trucks, including trailers bearing recyclables, were also required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent for 2018 models.

According to a document recently released by the Obama administration, several "advanced technologies" will be considered by EPA and DOT in the next round of fuel efficiency guidelines, including "improved tire rolling resistance." Improved fuel efficiency guidelines, similar to those introduced for long haul trucks, could also be considered for medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks.

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