City of Tacoma: new mufflers on Tacoma’s garbage fleet reduce harmful emissions

Just because garbage is smelly doesn’t mean the trucks that collect it have to be the same. The City of Tacoma Fleet Services Division last month retrofitted 48 garbage trucks with mufflers that reduce tailpipe emissions, smoke and odor by 50 percent.

The City used a portion of a $100,000 grant from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to voluntarily retrofit the mufflers with a diesel oxidation catalyst. The porous, ceramic, honeycomb-like structure uses a chemical process to break down exhaust pollutants into less harmful components.

In addition to the muffler retrofit, the City’s use of the alternative fuel biodiesel (a renewable product made from soybean oil) provides even cleaner emissions. Since 2001, Tacoma’s garbage trucks have run on a biodiesel blend — 20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent petroleum diesel. In 2005, a year ahead of federal requirements, the City will use “ultra-low” sulfur petroleum diesel, which will reduce harmful emissions up to 90 percent.

“We’ll have the cleanest running trucks around, so clean you can almost sniff the tailpipes,” boasts Steve Hennessey, Fleet Services Division Manager.
The City’s fleet division is responsible for maintaining 1,400 vehicles and equipment City-wide. In 2001, Tacoma’s garbage truck fleet was the first in Puget Sound to commit to a biodiesel program, a move which earned the City a 2002 National Partner Award from the Department of Energy.

A division of Public Works Environmental Services, Solid Waste Management has served the City of Tacoma since 1929. Solid Waste Management provides curbside garbage, recycling and yard waste collection for approximately 52,000 single-family residential homes and 4,400 multi-family units and commercial businesses. The utility also operates a full-service landfill, recycling center and hazardous waste collection facility as well as a popular bulk collection pick-up service.