The phrase “fill er’ up” may have taken on new meaning in the Town of Mamaroneck (TOM). The town has been powering one of their garbage trucks with free veggie fuel since 2008, in a move that is both environmentally sound and cost-efficient.
The TOM invested $7,000 in the original “veggie truck,” that runs on recycled vegetable oil. A second truck was converted in 2009.
“It’s more than paid for itself, especially when the price of fuel rose,” said TOM Administrator Steve Altieri. “We’re probably saving between $20-25,000 per year in fuel expenses,” he said in reference to the savings from both vehicles.
The Village of Mamaroneck (VOM) has also jumped on board with the idea, and has their own “veggie truck” that runs on vegetable oil.
In September of 2008, the TOM Board set a goal to decrease carbon emissions by 5 percent by 2012 in conjunction with an “action plan” put into place by then County Executive Andrew Spano. The plan called for a countywide reduction in emissions by 20 percent over the next seven years.
Soon after a Council of Government meeting in 2008—which brought together Westchester County Supervisors and Mayors—a conversation between Spano and TOM Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe yielded a novel approach to aid in meeting that goal.
“He told us that the county had taken a medium to small-sized bus and changed the fuel so that it was running on used vegetable oil,” said O’Keeffe. “I came back and told my colleagues and we got excited that we could probably use it in some other fashion.”
The byproduct was New York State’s first working refuse collecting sanitation vehicle or “veggie truck.”
Engineered by Mahopac, NY-based V.O. Tech Fuel Systems, a 2002 Mack Refuse Collection vehicle was converted to operate on vegetable oil, defraying the cost of diesel fuel.
Whereas town garbage trucks burn around 50 gallons of diesel fuel per week, the veggie truck burns just 10 in the winter months when preheating is necessary. The veggie fuel needs to be heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to flow like diesel fuel. No preheating is necessary in the summer months.
Back in 2008, the TOM started collecting used vegetable oil from local restaurants like The Slap Shot Café at the , , and the .
The oil is free for the town, and, explains O’Keeffe, restaurants normally have to pay to dispose of the used oil “because you can’t just pour oil down the drain.”
“They’re happy to give it to us,” she said.
In more recent news—as stated in her address—O’Keeffe mentioned the TOM’s purchase of a hybrid dump truck—an estimated $185,000 value—and cited the TOM’s continued efforts to cut fuel costs and reduce toxic emissions.
According to Altieri, delivery of the new hybrid will take place in three weeks’ time.
“We received a grant in the amount of $35,000 from the New York State Energy office to assist with the purchase of the truck,” Altieri said.
A hybrid truck, however, will cost the town more than a standard diesel fuel truck, which normally runs $150-$160,000, said Altieri.
“So the state made up the difference in cost with the grant,” he said.
But the town is not done yet. Other potential areas of improvement include energy usage at the Town Center—which is heated with a mixture containing 20 percent biofuel—as well as energy consumption at Hommocks Ice Rink and the wattage needed to illuminate street lights.
“Our next big energy conservation project will be to look at whether we can operate the Town Center building and the Hommocks Ice Rink more efficiently than we do now,” said Altieri.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article was clarified to reflect that the town has two garbage trucks converted to run on vegetable fuel, for a total savings of $20-$25,000 annually to the town.