Running Cleaner for the Community
Winning Bids Ahead of Schedule
Reducing Landfill Waste
South San Francisco Scavenger Co. knows about waste. For over 100 years this waste collection and processing company has served the San Francisco Bay Area’s municipalities including facilities at San Francisco International Airport.
The company is one of the few carbon negative fleets in the U.S. with a drastically small carbon footprint compared to its competitors. Scavenger has gained tremendous community support and a competitive advantage thanks to its commitment to fueling a cleaner, compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled fleet.
“The collected organic waste makes up to 500 DGE/day of RNG and connects with a Clean Energy fueling station nearby. What’s left over in the digester goes to a compost site for farming and other uses.”
Searching for the Right Eco-Solution
Scavenger didn’t want to be a typical waste collection fleet contributing to the Bay Area’s growing noise and air pollution. Being pioneers, the company experimented with propane-fueled trucks in the 1970s, but found that the trucks didn’t have the horsepower and weren’t as reliable as they needed. Scavenger also looked at electric vehicles, but found limitations in truck size and scale.
Then the company’s client San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced a requirement for taxis and buses to reduce their environmental impact. While the regulation did not extend to haulers, Scavenger proactively jumped on board to make a positive impact as part of the airport’s environmental solution. The company converted a few trucks in its fleet to CNG, deploying the first to SFO.
Very quickly, the CNG-fueled trucks proved their reliability and operational cost-savings. The company began converting more trucks each year knowing that CNG would play a major role in their future fueling strategy.
Time Crunch: Clean Energy Solution
In 2009 Scavenger, along with its partners, won a bid with the City of Livermore, making a bold and unprecedented commitment to convert to a 100% CNG-fueled fleet. However, the closest CNG fueling station was far from their daily routes and the contract started in less than six months. The trucks needed to be ready to go on day one, with no exceptions and no extensions.
Scavenger brought the problem to Clean Energy to help build a new fueling station.
“The Clean Energy team was instrumental to us rolling out a brand new franchise,” says Scavenger President Doug Button. “Even when the utility could not supply power to the station by the franchise start date, Clean Energy stepped up and provided backup power supply to ensure our trucks met rollout.”
With the success of the Livermore project, Scavenger’s confidence in CNG strengthened. With over 40 trucks in their fleet, 22 are now CNG-fueled and all will be converted as the company’s diesel-fueled vehicles are retired.
Since 2009, the company has engaged with Clean Energy to build and maintain a total of five Redeem® renewable natural gas (RNG)-flowing stations with 165 overnight, time-fill dispensers in the Bay Area.
Carbon Negative Closed Loop System
Furthering its commitment to innovation and waste reduction, Scavenger set its sights on creating its own fuel from commercial and residential waste. With Clean Energy and other partners, the company developed the first dry anaerobic digestion (AD) center in the U.S.
The collected organic waste makes up to 500 DGE/day of RNG and connects with a Clean Energy fueling station nearby. What’s left over in the digester goes to a compost site for farming and other uses.
“It’s an incredibly clean, closed-loop system,” says Button. “For example, our trucks pick up a huge amount of food waste from the San Francisco Airport. That waste is converted in the digester and within days it fuels those same trucks back to service the airport again.”
As governments and businesses continue to be more cautious of their environmental impacts, fleets are realizing the benefits of switching to natural gas as a transportation fuel. It’s cleaner, produced in North America, and it offers the same performance as other fuels, creating a market differentiator that makes companies like Scavenger stand out above the rest.