The City of London Corporation will become the first UK governing body to run a full fleet of electric refuse collection vehicles following recent successful trials of the new technology.

The five vehicles – the first of which arrived at Guildhall today – will form the UK’s first zero emission recycling and waste collection fleet and will collect residents’ waste and recycling in the Square Mile.

Designed to improve air quality in the City and advance decarbonisation, the new zero emission fleet will be operated by Veolia, who deliver the City Corporation’s tech-driven recycling and waste collections, street cleansing and ancillary services operations.

This operational first will be achieved using new innovative technologies for both the charging infrastructure and the vehicles, which will collect an estimated 20,000 tonnes of residents’ waste and recycling in the Square Mile over the next six years.

To ensure the electricity infrastructure supports local communities, and at the same time provides sufficient charging for the fleet, Veolia has developed a smart charging system. This compares data including shift patterns, available generation and vehicle power requirements, and uses this in an algorithm that automatically determines which vehicles are charged when in the depot.

By using this system, the vehicles are available when needed, local grid power availability is maintained, and future expansion of electrical demands can be met as further decarbonisation measures are introduced.

Other technology includes the use of liquid-cooled permanent magnet drive motors to ensure the fleet can withstand stop-start environments where high torque is required.

The new 18-tonne and 26-tonne trucks will be powered by 100% recyclable lithium-ion batteries, rather than diesel, and will help with the continued reduction of air pollution in the City.

Designed for urban environments with short routes, the vehicles can complete a full shift on one charge and will start their first rounds this month.

The trucks are part of the City Corporation’s plan to ensure at least 90% of the Square Mile meets World Health Organisation guidelines for nitrogen dioxide by 2025.

Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s environment committee, Keith Bottomley, said: ‘These new vehicles will help to further drive down air pollution in the City and improve the environment. Our fleet vehicles emitted about 400 tonnes of CO2e in 2018/19, so this change of fleet is of great significance.

‘We hope this move will encourage local authorities across the country to follow suit in the urgent need to deal with toxic air.’

He continued: ‘This pioneering fleet complements the work we’re doing to help businesses consolidate vehicle deliveries and use more hybrid models. Air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health with up to 36,000 people dying prematurely every year in the UK.

‘We will continue to take steps to ensure that we are reducing emissions from our entire vehicle fleet, for the benefit of all.’

Pascal Hauret, Managing Director , Municipal for Veolia UK, commented: ‘At Veolia we work closely with our customers to deliver greener fleet solutions that also offer value for money.

‘This new electric solution now opens new possibilities for cleaner air in cities, with the potential of recharging the vehicles using electricity generated from the waste they carry via Energy Recovery Facilities.

‘It marks a major step forward towards carbon net zero targets, and highlights how local authorities can drive sustainability by using green solutions to address their environmental challenges.’