Fuel efficiency measures – including routing improvements and vehicle automation – continue to be our top strategy for reducing fleet emissions. In 2021, we completed many routing projects as part of our overarching fleet automation and conversion strategy. These projects enabled us to remove trucks from service while eliminating tens of thousands of miles of unnecessary heavy-duty vehicle traffic in our communities.
We track our fuel intensity in terms of Gigajoules (GJ) of fuel per ton of material collected. Between 2019 and 2021, we reduced that metric by 7.3%. We expect to see further improvements in the coming years as we continue to execute our plan in additional markets.
As in previous years, we continue to find that our investments in vehicle automation, on-board computers, and routing efficiency can yield important improvements in worker safety and driver productivity. These benefits, combined with the fuel and emission savings, combine to drive important progress toward multiple sustainability goals.
Our interest in alternative fuels remain strong, and we continue to closely monitor advancements in compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric vehicle technology for heavyduty trucks. Alternative vehicles comprise a small portion of our routed vehicle fleet, with further expansion limited largely by infrastructure gaps, steep terrain, and winter weather conditions in our operating region.
Several planned technology pilots have been delayed by supply chain challenges, but we have installed some electric charging equipment and plan to take delivery on two electric trucks by the end of 2022. The success of these pilots will depend largely on the advancement of the technology and its ability to overcome the above-mentioned regional challenges.
Compliance with environmental regulations is a core expectation for each of our operations and a daily responsibility of each Casella employee. Our engineering and environmental professionals work with our facility operating teams to improve operations while reducing environmental risk.
We operate in a geography that has stringent environmental regulations, and we are proud to manage to these standards. Our approach includes the following elements:
- Casella facilities track their recurring permit conditions and responsibilities in the company’s environmental task management database, with the support of a dedicated administrator. This helps to ensure consistent assignment of tasks and awareness of deadlines.
- Casella employs a team of talented environmental engineers and compliance professionals dedicated to providing our operations teams with the knowledge and resources needed for compliance and environmental protection.
- Casella employees receive training on environmental topics relevant to their position at various points during onboarding and throughout the year.
Routing and Automation
Electric trucks and alternative fuels tend to get a lot of attention, but the workhorses of our emission reduction strategy continue to be routing efficiency and fleet automation.
In 2021, one of our divisions replaced many of its rear-load trucks with automated front-load trucks and updated its routes. As a result of these changes, the division reduced its total miles traveled and cut its annual fuel consumption, preventing greenhouse gas emissions.