Electric bin lorries powered by energy from the household rubbish they collect are being piloted in Sheffield and Westminster, London, in what the councils are calling a world first for a local authority.

The scheme recycles diesel lorries destined for the scrapyard, fitting them with electric motors and transforming them into 26-tonne bin wagons powered by the waste they collect. The idea is that any surplus energy can be fed back into the system to power people’s homes.

The repowered refuse vehicles, which have zero carbon emissions, are part of Sheffield’s drive to clean the city’s air. Sheffield and Westminster have illegal levels of air pollution, with Sheffield city council declaring a climate emergency in February and pledging to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Councillor Mark Jones said the project, which uses local firm Magtec to fit the electric motors, puts Sheffield and the region at the forefront of green technology.

“Using local expertise, we are piloting a new repowered 26-tonne bin lorry which is powered by the electricity produced by the waste it collects. We believe we are the first local authority ever to do this, putting Sheffield at the forefront of the green energy revolution.

“Our city is working hard to deliver clean air and green jobs. We are rightly proud of projects such as this alongside our own proposals for a clean air zone to cut nitrogen dioxide.

“I’m looking forward to seeing this bin lorry and another set to be delivered soon powering up Sheffield’s hills and leading the way for a new approach to tackle climate change and poor air quality.”

Marcus Jenkins, Magtec’s director, said converting one bin lorry was equivalent to taking 30 diesel-powered cars off the streets.

“The quickest and most economical way to reduce harmful emissions in our cities is to repower diesel trucks with electric drives,” he said.

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