GFL puts first all-electric truck into service

The company plans to test the Mack Trucks model in the varied climate around Squamish, British Columbia.

GFL electric collection truck
GLF has deployed its first fully electric truck in Squamish, British Columbia.
Photo courtesy of GFL Environmental Inc.

GFL Environmental Inc.’s first fully-electric automated side loader has been placed in service in Squamish, British Columbia.

Greensboro, North Carolina-based Mack Trucks built the chassis, and Labrie Automizer, Levis, Quebec, mounted the body. The truck was displayed at WasteExpo in Las Vegas before entering service, GLF says in a news release.

Squamish is a perfect place for GFL, Vaughan, Ontario, to introduce an electric truck, the company says. The District of Squamish declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and is working toward creating a low-carbon future. Decarbonizing transportation is one strategy being adopted to reduce emissions.

“Environmentalism is appreciated in the natural beauty of Squamish, and the District of Squamish has been quite vocal on electrical adoption,” GFL Fleet Director for Western Canada Tyler Stefure says. “They have expressed interest in seeing what a private hauler can do. I think this truck will get a lot of attention for us in Squamish.”

Denise Imbeau, general manager of GFL’s Squamish facility, says that the area is a huge draw for outdoor enthusiasts, including skiers, mountain climbers, mountain bikers and windsurfers.

“Our community is very eco-minded, innovative and forward-thinking,” Imbeau says. “Investment in electric technology aligns with the values of this community and demonstrates the commitment GFL has to our community and our planet.”

One of GFL’s key sustainability objectives is to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations and increase the use of alternative and low-carbon fuels in its fleet. Approximately 15 percent of GFL’s collection fleet is fueled with compressed natural gas, and the introduction of the electric truck represents another contribution towards GFL’s low-carbon goal.

“It will be well traveled up and down the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler, servicing residential communities along the way,” Stefure says.

Residents likely won’t hear the new truck coming as it operates with a near-silent power train, providing quiet service to the residents on its route. The truck produces no exhaust emissions and requires no oil changes. It will be charged overnight so it is ready to tackle its route each day.

“The electric truck is intended to do everything that its gas and diesel counterparts can do,” Stefure says. “Obviously, battery life is influential so as time goes on, we’ll really put it through its paces and see how it does.”

The plan is to first learn how to safely operate and care for the truck, then test it in a variety of situations to figure out what limitations, if any, need to be considered, GLF says.

“There’s a lot of speculation on what the truck should do. The proof is in what it can do, and that’s why [British Columbia] is such a great proving ground for us,” Stefure says. “It offers different climates and different terrains, so we can run the truck in Squamish and maybe run it in the Lower Mainland or someplace really cold, just to find out how it performs.”

“Our location is on the ocean, and our surroundings are very mountainous. Our intention will be to understand how these conditions affect the operation of an electric vehicle,” Imbeau says. “Being the first of the GFL family to test an electric residential truck in our community is futuristic and almost beyond belief. We are excited to be leaders in the community and our industry.”

Being an early adopter of electric truck technology positions GFL to be better prepared as more municipalities move to adopt electric and other up-and-coming fuel technologies.

“Electric charging is a stepping-stone toward alternative fuels and carbon reduction,” Stefure says. “Technology is advancing, and this is a step in the right direction. It’s really exciting for GFL to be a part of this advancement.”

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