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ODS exceeds electric vehicle target with help from Ernie

Back in 2022, Ernie was rescued from scrappage by ODS and converted to carry out street cleansing tasks in Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone including the removal of gum and graffiti and street washing.

With transport in Oxford currently accounting for around 17 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the city, ODS set out ambitious plans to electrify a quarter of its fleet by 2023. This goal has been met, and exceeded, with a little help from Ernie, with around 27 per cent of ODS’ current fleet now being electric. ODS’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact is a long-term goal with the business aiming to achieve carbon emission Net Zero by 2030.

Converting a vehicle that could be used in a Zero Emission Zone and house the necessary jet wash to carry out efficient street cleansing functions in a safe manner was not without its challenges. Due to the weight of the equipment required for cleansing services, ODS needed a vehicle of at least 3.5 tonnes.

However, using the skills of ODS’ vehicle technicians, Ernie was equipped with new fittings and a grime buster steam pressure washer that were seamlessly integrated into the back of the milk float in the storage space previously designated for milk bottles!

Not only has the vehicle helped to make a huge difference to the visual appearance of Oxford’s streets, but ODS’ hard-working streetscene team has found its equipment helps make easier work of their tasks of washing down bins and removing fly posting. As well as safely carrying all the signage and cleaning materials the team needs in the back of the vehicle, Ernie is also fitted with extra-long pipes that can reach areas that other machines simply cannot.

Owain Pearce, ODS Transport Manager, said: “After having the converted milk float in our fleet for a year, we can safely say that not only has it boosted efficiencies within the street cleaning team, and saved manpower and other resources, but by allowing us to operate in the Zero Emissions Zone it has saved ODS money too”.

Councillor Nigel Chapman Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services and Council Companies, said: “Oxford City Council has an ambition to become a Zero Carbon Council by 2030, and decarbonising its fleet vehicles is key to achieving this.

“By adapting a former milk float we are reducing the Council’s and ODS’ carbon footprint. This recycled vehicle operates in the Zero Emission Zone and plays it’s part in keeping both streets and air clean.” 

The team at ODS aren’t the only ones with a soft spot for their new fleet member. Ernie-spotting has become a popular pastime for city-goers around Oxford, with many smiling children giving Ernie a wave as he goes about his daily work!

Ernie’s first anniversary coincides with Oxford Great Big Green Week which runs from 10 to 18 June. The find out more visit the Oxford Great Big Green Week website. Additionally, and just as appropriate, Thursday, 15 June is Clean Air Day. Find out more about that from the Clean Air Day website.