Fleets Dig Deeper Into Managing Their Waste Output

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Release date: 3/22/2019

Fleets Dig Deeper Into Managing Their Waste Output
Donald Dunphy

Fleets that set an example for sustainable practices are aware of the big-picture numbers – staggering worldwide numbers regarding carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) output – and commit to do their part to not contribute to those datasets. Pollutants are, however, more than emissions from vehicles alone. They come from garbage dumped in the landfill which generates CO2 and methane. There are also the pollutants that seep into the
ground and water supply, stemming from the waste stream fleets can generate.

Fleets can play a significant role in being responsible stewards of their materials, curbing waste stream flows,
and recognizing the consequences that mismanagement will bring. It will not be easy, and may take additional effort.

More Than the Vehicles - A study released in late-2018 by the Global Carbon Project, a global research subsidiary of the Future Earth organization and a research partner of the World Climate Research Programme, confirmed the worst. Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent, bringing fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The problem is so big. What can individual fleets do? For starters, fleet sustainability requires awareness of every input which facilitates that fleet’s mission and it will take some effort.

“I’m always trying to come up with ways to reduce our waste stream, generate some income, and save money,” said David Gauthier, Safety Specialist for City of Chesapeake Central Fleet Management. “Back in the 2005-06 timeframe, when I came aboard with the garage, George Hrichak (Director of Fleet Services for City of Chesapeake Central Fleet Management) and I had a meeting where he discussed how we could make a difference for the city in terms of environmental impact.

“After some time and consideration, we realized that turning the wrench and fixing the cars – our main task – was
only a part of what we needed to deal with,” Gauthier added. “Through this, we developed an aggressive recycling
program for oil, coolant, metal, precious metals, cardboard and paper, solvents, used filters, and tires, and developed a tracking report which measured how much (waste) we generate per year.”

This measurement process opened a lot of eyes, specifically with the amount of scrap metal that came out of the
garage, which the City of Chesapeake was able to sell to earn back some of the fleet’s costs.

“With waste oil, we didn’t realize how many man-hours and how much paperwork it took to simply recycle your oil,” Gauthier said. “Then you need to reclaim the anti-freeze separately from the oil and process the used oil filters.

All of that material has to be considered in the disposal methodology in terms of its environmental impacts.” Policies
and processes were instituted to reduce, but cannot fully avoid, these issues. In order to do their part in greening the fleet, the time and expense are viewed as necessary to the greater good.

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