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Alexandria first in region to start testing new electric trash trucks

Electric refuse truck (via Alexandria Transportation & Environmental Services/Twitter)

(Updated 4:25 p.m.) When trash pick-up comes around, it might be a little quieter than usual.

Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) said the city is testing out new electric trash trucks.

“This week, our crews are test-driving electric refuse trucks,” the department said on Twitter. “They’re quieter and deliver pollution reduction benefits”

Right now, city staff is test-driving one electric refuse truck for a week to better understand how it could be used in the city, Director of T&ES Yon Lambert tells ALXnow.

“The electric refuse truck is ideal for urban areas like ours because we take garbage collection to a local waste-to-energy facility, versus a landfill that would require a longer trip,” Lambert said. “Staff in the City’s Fleet Management Division of Transportation & Environmental Services is responsible for the maintenance of the truck, including charging it overnight, while a team from Resource Recovery is responsible for using it on routes to collect household garbage.”

The plan, according to Lambert, is to spend the week test driving the truck to gauge how it could be used to help reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

Lambert said the switch is part of a broader effort to the city’s roughly 800-vehicle fleet more sustainable. These vehicles are used in everything from household garbage collection to construction site inspections.

T&ES isn’t the first city service to venture into electric vehicles. City bus service DASH has been working toward adding 20 electric buses to its fleet — in addition to the 14 already in service — by 2025. The program has hit some stumbling blocks, though, like challenges with hilly terrain and cold weather.

“Our team will monitor how the refuse truck performs while it’s on collection routes this week,” Lambert said. “I believe that over time, we will do our due diligence and record data for this. These manufacturers have solid records of having reliable trucks available.”

Lambert said the truck is being tested as part of a week-long demo by truck company Mack at no cost to the city.

“We are exploring ways to build sustainability and resiliency to protect our City and environment now and for the next generation,” Lambert said. “This test drive will help the City gauge if this is a way we can continue working toward our sustainability goals. If the electric refuse truck is a viable option for us, it could be considered in a future year budget process.”

Lambert says he believes Alexandria is the first municipality in Northern Virginia to test drive an electric refuse truck.

“We hope this inspires other municipalities to also consider sustainability options,” he said.

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