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Waste Management piloting Rotopress collection trailers in North America; natural gas tractors

In a pilot program, Waste Management, Inc. is introducing Rotopress waste collection trailers for the first time in North America. The Rotopress modular technology, combined with a decoupled tractor-trailer configuration using natural gas as its fuel source, provides a number of operational and environmental benefits.

The Rotopress, manufactured by Germany-based Faun Gruppe, is a rear-end-loaded trailer with a fixed compacting screw system in the rear section and a spiral screw conveyor inside the drum. The entire waste load is continuously mixed and compacted during and following collection. The Rotopress design offers the facility of collecting a far higher payload more per round than conventional compaction-plate vehicles, and because of the design also features a self-cleaning drum (reverse the screw to empty).

The transportation of the waste in the front section of the body also means the load is optimally distributed over all of the axles. The minimal overhang tailgate of the Rotopress ensures extremely high maneuverability for all body sizes. Other features include:

  • Greater Payload: Rotopress is significantly lighter than most compaction-plate vehicles and allows the vehicle to carry up to 14 tons—generally four more tons than a conventional waste collection vehicle.

  • Decoupled Chassis: The decoupled tractor-trailer configuration allows for better management of assets as chassis and body can be replaced separately on a more effective schedule.

  • Ease of operation: Compared with a rigid vehicle, a semi-truck trailer has a 40% smaller turning radius making it more maneuverable, which is very desirable in residential areas with cul-de-sacs and parked cars and in other tight areas. In the event of a breakdown, the truck and module can be separated reducing downtime and improved utilization of trucks.

  • Improved maintenance costs: The unique corkscrew design of continuously moving waste to the front of the body will help prevent the rear axles from being overloaded while keeping sufficient weight on the front axle at all times. This makes the drive smoother and reduces wear on tires. The maintenance costs related to the tractor-trailers should be improved as there is less stress on the suspension and far fewer moving parts compared to a conventional rear loader.

  • No odor or leakage: The Rotopress does not directly press any additional liquid out of the waste, but binds it by permanently mixing it with the dry material. This operation reduces the amount of free liquid in the system, lowering damage to the body that can be caused by corrosion and additionally reducing leakage and odors considerably.

  • Driver comfort and ease: The entire Rotopress drum is soundproofed and the continuous movement of the waste eliminates noise peaks during loading. This combined with the use of natural gas engines will greatly reduce noise levels.

Rotopress has been in operation across Europe for more than eight decades.

The pilot program will first rollout in Houston, Texas, followed by pilot projects in San Diego, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., Milwaukee, Wis. and Camden, N.J. Waste Management anticipates the program to provide greater operational flexibility and reduce trips, fuel use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improved maintenance costs.

The Rotopress will help contribute toward our corporate sustainability goal to increase fuel efficiency by 15 percent and decrease emissions by 15 percent by 2020. Our plan is to save 350 million gallons of fuel and reduce 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2020.

—Eric Woods, vice president, fleet and logistics at Waste Management


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