‘Upcycled’ Refuse Collection Vehicles lead zero-emission revolution for London


Global resource management company, Veolia, in partnership with Westminster City Council, is trialling two electric Refuse Collection Vehicles (eRCV) on the streets of London. 

The two 26 tonne collection vehicles previously ran on diesel and were reaching the end of their life. Instead of scrapping them, Veolia and Westminster City Council have ‘upcycled’ them to as-new condition with new electric engines that will improve air quality and exceed the requirements of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in central London. 

The vehicles have been cleverly engineered to solve the industry-wide challenge of eRCV battery life. The electric engine will only release power when the vehicle is active, rather than running continuously, as is required by diesel models. This means that despite power-draining factors that include fluctuating vehicle weight, frequent stops and starts, and multiple operations of the bin lift, they are expected to efficiently run for a full shift with no emissions produced. 

The two year trial is part of Westminster City Council and Veolia’s long term plan to improve air quality and increase the number of electric vehicles on the city’s streets. If successful, the vehicles will make daily recycling and refuse collections cleaner and greener, and accelerate the transition to zero-emission heavy goods vehicles in central London. 

Gavin Graveson, Executive Vice President for Veolia UK and Ireland, said:

This project highlights Veolia’s ongoing investment in clean air solutions in London and across the UK. By converting existing vehicles and trialling alternative fleet solutions with forward thinking local authority partners like Westminster City Council, we are not only preserving resources but are lowering emissions and creating greener cities.

Cllr Tim Mitchell, Westminster City Council’s Deputy Leader, said:

Tackling pollution in London is an ongoing battle, and this pilot is just one of the many ways we’re making our daily operations cleaner and greener. I am proud to see electric vehicle innovation like this out on the streets of Westminster, keeping our borough clean without sacrificing air quality.

The project is backed by a grant from the Innovation Funding Service (Innovate UK) which has allowed for the 18 month renovation process as well the upcoming two year trial. The project has also converted an additional two RCVs that will be used in trials in Sheffield.