The City of London Corporation will soon become the first UK authority to run a full fleet of Electric Refuse Collection Vehicles (ERCVs).
These five new zero-emissions trucks — the first of which arrived at Guildhall on 4 March — will collect waste and recycling from residents of the Square Mile, without contributing to air pollution in the local area.
In contrast to the traditional diesel rubbish trucks, the new 18 tonne and 26 tonne ERCVs are powered by lithium-ion batteries. These are designed for the short routes you typically find in urban environments: each of the City ERCVs are able to complete a full route on a single battery charge.
The new environmentally-friendly fleet is part of the City Corporation's plan for at least 90% of the Square Mile to meet World Health Organisation guidelines for nitrogen dioxide by 2025.
These stipulate that annual levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) should not exceed 40 micrograms per cubic metre — and in recent years, the capital has taken huge strides towards this target. Between 2016 and 2019, the annual NO2 average fell by an average of 21% across monitoring sites Londonwide, boosted by the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone and initiatives like London's first 'zero emission' road, which City Corporation began piloting last year.
That said, there's still plenty of work to be done. In 2019, the City of London had the second-highest levels of toxic air particles, known as PM 2.5, in the capital, exceeding WHO's annual guidelines by 2.6 micrograms per cubic metre. Here's hoping that, along with other green measures, the new ERCV fleet can help make the borough's air a whole lot cleaner.