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GFL’s first electric truck hits the road in Squamish, BC

Man in a high-vis vest standing in front of GFL's new signature green electric truck in its garage.

GFL’s first fully electric automated side loader (ASL) truck is well traveled even before it reports for service. Its chassis was built at Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania; its body was mounted at Labrie Automizer in Quebec; and from there it attended Waste Expo in Las Vegas, where it dazzled attendees with its bright green paint job and cutting-edge electric technology. Now, the truck has moved to its new permanent home in Squamish, British Columbia.

Squamish is a perfect place for GFL to introduce an electric truck. The District of Squamish declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and is actively working towards creating a low-carbon future. Decarbonizing transportation is one strategy being adopted to reduce emissions.

“Environmentalism is appreciated in the natural beauty of Squamish and the District of Squamish has been quite vocal on electrical adoption,” said Tyler Stefure, GFL’s fleet director for Western Canada. “They have expressed interest in seeing what a private hauler can do. I think this truck will get a lot of attention for us in Squamish.”

Denise Imbeau, general manager of GFL’s Squamish facility, added that the area is a huge draw for outdoor enthusiasts, including skiers, mountain climbers, mountain bikers and windsurfers.

“Our community is very eco-minded, innovative and forward thinking,” Imbeau said. “Investment in electric technology aligns with the values of this community and demonstrates the commitment GFL has to our community and our planet.”

One of GFL’s key sustainability objectives is to continue to reduce GHG emissions from its operations and increase the use of alternative and low-carbon fuels in its fleet. Currently, approximately 15 percent of GFL’s collection fleet is fueled with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and the introduction of the electric truck represents another exciting contribution towards GFL’s low-carbon goal.

“It will be well traveled up and down the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler, servicing residential communities along the way,” Stefure said.

Residents, however, likely won’t hear the new truck coming as it operates with a near-silent powertrain, providing quiet service to the residents on its route. The truck produces no exhaust emissions and requires no oil changes. It will be charged overnight so it’s ready to tackle its route the next day.

“The electric truck is intended to do everything that its gas and diesel counterparts can do,” Stefure said. “Obviously, battery life is influential so as time goes on, we’ll really put it through its paces and see how it does.”

The plan is to first learn how to safely operate and care for the truck, then to test it in a variety of situations to figure out what limitations, if any, need to be considered.

“There’s a lot of speculation on what the truck should do. The proof is in what it can do, and that’s why BC is such a great proving ground for us,” Stefure said. “It offers different climates and different terrains, so we can run the truck in Squamish and maybe run it in the Lower Mainland or someplace really cold, just to find out how it performs.”

“Our location is on the ocean, and our surroundings are very mountainous. Our intention will be to understand how these conditions affect the operation of an electric vehicle,” Imbeau said.

“Being the first of the GFL family to test an electric residential truck in our community is futuristic and almost beyond belief. We are excited to be leaders in the community and our industry.”

Being an early adopter of electric truck technology positions GFL to be better prepared as more municipalities move to adopt electric and other up-and-coming fuel technologies.

“Electric charging is a stepping-stone toward alternative fuels and carbon reduction,” Stefure said. “Technology is advancing, and this is a step in the right direction. It’s really exciting for GFL to be a part of this advancement.”

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