Waste Management Inc. owns 1,000 trash trucks that run on natural gas, plus a bunch of landfills that are constantly pumping out natural gas as a natural product of the decomposition of organic waste. Closing the loop on this cycle is a no-brainer, but it took Waste Management a decade to perfect the technology required. Now they’ve got trash trucks that run on gas from the trash they carry.
At its Altamont, Calif. landfill, Waste Management turns methane into liquid natural gas at a rate of 13,000 gallons a day. The California Air Resources Board estimates that trucks that run on the methane-based natural gas fuel are producing 80-90 percent fewer carbon emissions than if they were run on diesel. Plus, let's not forget that methane would be boiling off the landfill regardless, doing nobody any good. Plus it didn't have to get exploded out of the ground by fracking, or imported all the way from Canada or Mexico, America's two largest suppliers of crude oil.
Waste Management is awaiting approval on a similar landfill gas facility in Simi Valley, which will produce enough methane to power 300 additional trash trucks.