Company says change will be more convenient and sustainable

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Republic Services' compressed natural gas vehicles will each be refueled over the course of five to six hours.There is a story that Republic Services points to when asked about the benefits of powering its waste collection vehicles with compressed natural gas (CNG).

According to the story, the former mayor of Bellevue, Washington, wouldn’t set an alarm to wake him in the morning. Instead, he’d rely on the rumbling of one of Republic’s diesel-powered garbage collection trucks.

But the morning after the company rolled out its quieter CNG vehicles in Bellevue, the mayor overslept.

“I don’t think there are a huge amount of complaints about seeing a truck drive through neighborhoods,” says Jennifer Eldridge, senior communications manager with Republic Services. “But we all know it’s there when a FedEx or a UPS truck goes by.”

Wilsonville residents can look forward to a similar change in the months to come, as Republic Services’ Wilsonville campus acquires a new CNG fueling station that will eventually power its whole fleet of collection trucks. The $5 million upgrade was approved by the City of Wilsonville’s Development Review Board Sept. 14, and should start to fuel vehicles beginning in the spring of next year.

Republic Services is one of the largest waste collection companies in the United States. The Wilsonville transfer station is a MRF — a “materials recovery facility” — where the garbage and recycling collected by Republic’s fleet of local trucks is processed to ensure that all waste has been properly sorted. Afterward, the garbage is sent to a regional landfill, while the recycling is taken elsewhere for re-sale.

The Wilsonville station serves Wilsonville, West Linn, Sherwood, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Oregon City and parts of Portland. It has grown in the last decade with the consolidation of smaller stations around the area.

“Within the last few years, we’ve been focusing on making Wilsonville the hub for our metro-area operations,” says Jason Jordan, general manager of the Wilsonville station.

A big part of the consolidation process was the construction of a new maintenance shop. Completed last year, the shop meant that Republic’s vehicles no longer had to travel to Sherwood for service. SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO - Republic Services workers sort through recyclable material on a conveyor belt to determine what is sent on for re-use and what is sent to a landfill. Its a fast-paced process that demands endurance.

The shop was also built with an eventual shift to compressed natural gas vehicles in mind, including a CNG ventilation system, gas detection systems, modifications to lighting and other additions.

“This is something that has been part of our sustainability commitment for a couple of years,” Eldridge says. Sustainability, Eldridge says, is foremost the reason for the shift to CNG vehicles, but in addition to being quiet, it supports North American natural gas suppliers (like NW Natural, which will supply gas for the Wilsonville station).

Among the more significant components that will be added with the CNG upgrade will be dryers and compressors that turn natural gas from a line into a fuel capable of powering a collection truck. Gas then flows via a timing device through a line attached to a vehicle, generally over the course of five or six hours. Because of the length of time it takes to fill the vehicles, refueling generally occurs overnight.

That means that the filling process will actually be more convenient for drivers with diesel-powered vehicles, says Brian May, municipal relations manager for the Wilsonville station.

“A driver normally fills their (diesel) vehicle at the end of their shift, and it takes 15 or 20 minutes. Now it will be basically pulling into your parking spot and walking away,” he says.

Although the range traveled by a truck from the Wilsonville station varies greatly on account of the broad area the station services, Jordan says that a night of fueling will be plenty to get even trucks with the longest of routes through the day.

“What is nice out of the Wilsonville campus is that it’s really a great centralized hub. It allows us to service our customer base in this community really in a one-shot, out-and-back way,” he says.

Sixteen compressed natural gas-powered collection vehicles are slated to be delivered to the Wilsonville station by the end of this year, each of which costs around $30,000 more than a diesel-powered vehicle, Eldridge says. The vehicles will have to wait until the spring of 2016 for the fueling station to be built, however.

Initially, the station will be capable of fueling 30 vehicles at once. But it will receive upgrades that will eventually allow it to support 58 vehicles, which, Jordan says, would supply the station’s entire collection fleet.

Contact Jake Bartman at 503-636-1281 ext. 113 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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