Oxford’s first electric refuse collection vehicle arrives at ODS

Oxford’s first electric refuse collection vehicle arrives at ODS

The first purpose built, fully integrated electric refuse collection vehicle (eRCV) has arrived on the streets of Oxford, providing emission free waste collection services across the city.

Residents are encouraged to look out for the new vehicle’s distinctive branding.

With the Oxford Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) Pilot set to start in August 2021, ODS – Oxford City Council’s wholly owned company – has made a significant step in the electrification of its fleet. 

About the vehicle

The arrival of the electric refuse collection vehicle follows a successful trial last July, which allowed ODS to assess the vehicle’s performance and suitability to Oxford’s streets ahead of the delivery.

The vehicle is the latest in its 339-strong fleet to be converted to electric, as ODS looks to convert 25% of its fleet to electric by 2023 with funding provided by Energy Superhub Oxford, and is already well ahead of other companies in terms of its electric vehicle facilities. Currently, ODS has 51 electric vehicles, with a further eight vehicles on order.

Although OCC is responsible for just 1% of Oxford’s emissions, the city council and ODS want to reduce our emissions to meet the council’s 2030 objective.

ODS currently has 27 refuse trucks to cover every home and business in Oxford. Once each refuse vehicle is replaced with an electric model, 750 tonnes less CO2 will be pumped out by Oxford per year— the weight of one average car every day.

The electric refuse truck, which was built by British makers of precision-made vehicles, Dennis Eagle Ltd, has both a quieter engine and lifting machinery than diesel trucks (in addition to zero exhaust emissions). When offering feedback to the trial, Oxford residents commented on the benefits of the quieter engine and how it was ideal for busy urban environments.

The arrival of the electric refuse collection vehicle is funded in part by the £41m Energy Superhub Oxford project led by Oxford City Council and Pivot Power, part of EDF Renewables.

The adoption of electric refuse collection vehicles is still relatively new across the country and in addition to that, the large battery size means that purchasing these vehicles is around double the price of a diesel equivalent. It is anticipated that as these vehicles are adopted on a wider scale, more vehicles will be able to join Oxford’s fleet without the need for external funding.

ODS has also recently won a grant to collaborate with OCC to develop an innovative and cost-effective device that could allow households without off-street parking to charge electric vehicles at home. These are major milestones in Oxford’s journey to become a zero carbon city.

Journey to zero carbon

The council’s fourth carbon management plan for 2021/22 to 2029/30 outlines the intensification of the council’s decarbonisation ambition, with the council aiming to achieve an average annual (absolute) emission cut of 10% (approximately 530tCO2e) every year until 2030 – doubling its current business as usual rate of reduction of a 5% year on year reduction target.

The council’s main focus of activity to achieve this will be to effect a rapid switch to decarbonising its power for heating systems across its buildings and its fleet vehicles.

In its latest Air Quality Action Plan, Oxford City Council has set its own voluntary target for 30 µg/m3 of NO2 to be achieved, by 2025 at the latest- going beyond the current legal target set out by the UK government of 40 µg/m3.

The NO2 target of 30 µg/m3 is both stretching, and realistically achievable by 2025 – however, without the introduction of key schemes such as the Oxford Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford, it is unlikely that Oxford will meet this local target.

Energy Superhub Oxford

Funding for the new electric vehicle is part funded from Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) - a £41m project designed to integrate and dramatically decarbonise energy, heat and transport systems across the city. 

The ESO consortium includes Oxford City Council, Pivot Power, part of Renewables, Habitat Energy, Invinity Energy Systems, Kensa Contracting and University of Oxford.

The £41m project, which was announced in April 2019, received £10m from the government’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution Challenge – of which Oxford City Council was awarded £1,615,169 for its role in the project.

Last year, the project saw the installation of 38 electric vehicle chargers and the city’s first 50kW rapid electric charger for ODS’ electric vehicle fleet at the ODS depot in Marsh road in Cowley, as well as the delivery of 26 electric vehicles to ODS’ fleet.

Councillor Nigel Chapman, cabinet member for customer focused services, Oxford City Council, said: “As we continue to work towards achieving a zero carbon council by 2030, it is important that we continue to explore how our own services can help us to achieve our goal. The electrification of our vehicles is key and purchasing larger vehicles, such as an electric refuse collection vehicle, will help us to achieve this. I am delighted that ODS are continuing to look towards the future and how they can reduce their carbon emissions.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, deputy leader and cabinet member for green transport and zero carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “She's electric! With the Zero Emission Zone Pilot set to start, Oxford’s first electric bin lorry is taking to the streets, the Binderella of the council's fleet. Oxford’s place as a leader in the electric vehicle field is widely recognised and strengthened by our partnership with the world-leading Energy Superhub Oxford. We’re driving forward our efforts to achieve the cleanest air possible, a truly zero carbon city by 2040, and eliminate the council’s own contribution to climate change by 2030. And it’s fantastic news for residents as our electric bin lorry quietly moves around our neighbourhoods and confines its diesel counterparts to the dustbin of history.”

Maria Warner, waste and recycling manager at ODS, said: “Given the fact that we collected more than 3 million bins in 2020 alone, the conversion from diesel-operated vehicles to electric is a huge step in reducing carbon emissions in the city of Oxford.

“Our trials of the new eRCV went exceedingly well, and we are thrilled about putting the vehicle to use in order to help OCC meet its goal of achieving a zero carbon Oxford by 2050. We are so very thankful to everyone involved, including our front-line workers who have helped to make this day possible.”

“At ODS, we work around customer and workforce needs. This investment in electric vehicles shows how the Oxford model, an approach used by ODS whereby the community is considered in all business decisions, benefits the people of Oxford.”

Owain Pearce, transport manager for ODS, said: “ODS has been an advocate of green transport for the last decade and whilst we have been growing our electric fleet this project has given us the opportunity to rapidly increase the number of EVs and enabled us to include some specialist vehicles. ODS has been an early adopter of EVs and I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve in such a short amount of time. I certainly expect the transition to EVs to continue in future years. 

“We hope that our investment in this technology raises awareness of electric vehicles and provide others with an incentive to follow our lead. I am thrilled to be one of the first cities to have a fully electric refuse collection vehicle on our fleet and look forward to seeing it in operation in Oxford.

“We have already been operating a full electric vehicle test centre for the last two years for the ODS fleet and private customers so this will only expand as electric fleets increase.”

Tim Rose, programme manager for Energy Superhub Oxford at Pivot Power, said: “Energy Superhub Oxford is delighted to see Oxford’s first electric bin lorry hitting the city’s streets. It’s a significant milestone in the Council’s fleet electrification strategy, which will help to improve air quality and cut carbon across Oxford. The insights and lessons learned from its operation will help other towns and cities across the UK decarbonise transport and accelerate a net zero future.”