Civic Contractors launches first electric-powered sanitising truck

Civic Contractors introduces electric-powered truck that sanitises wheelie bins and steam-cleans city streets with high-pressure hot water.

New Zealand-owned waste management and streetscape maintenance company, Civic Contractors, has introduced an electric-powered (EV) truck that sanitises wheelie bins and steam-cleans city streets with high-pressure hot water.

The 11-tonne truck picks-up, hot-washes and steams the insides of various-sized wheelie bins. Its dual function pressure-washes and sanitises hard surfaces like city streets and pavements, using steam.

“Hot-washing and steam cleaning is an effective solution for killing pathogens and bacteria that spread disease, but also that attract rodents and make the rubbish bins stink. Now with the Covid-19 crisis, the issue of sanitisation of hard surfaces and bins has become more important than ever,”Bjorn Revfeim, managing director of Civic Contractors, said.

The truck is understood to be the first vehicle of its kind in New Zealand and has multiple features that reduce its impact on the environment: EV technology; the use of hot water rather than chemical agents for cleaning and sanitising; and a system for capturing dirty water to prevent it from entering local waterways.

“We’ve custom-designed the truck in the hope that New Zealand will take further steps to increase environmentally friendly waste collection services such as residential food waste collections, and eventually eliminate the need for single-use plastic bags in public streets and parks bins,” Revfeim said.

The vehicle cost more than $300,000 to design and build and was partially funded by a governmental Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) grant, which Civic received in 2017.

EECA has a dedicated Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund to incentivise New Zealand businesses and organisations to increase electric and low emission vehicle use.

The EV truck runs around 200km or eight hours working time before it needs to be charged. Limitations in current EV technology means it requires a small diesel unit to heat the water for the bin-washing equipment, but Civic says this is a short-term solution until technological gains are made in this area. Compared to a diesel truck of this size, the reduction in carbon emissions is approximately 25 tonnes CO2-e per year.

The new EV is based in Auckland and will begin operating from Monday 18 May.

“Initially, we are going to get the truck working within our existing streetscape contracts – so, cleaning street bins and other street furniture and footpaths,” Revfeim said.

“In the future, we hope to see it being used at hospitals and medical clinics, food manufacturing and processing facilities, and any commercial businesses that are sensitive to organic waste material. At this stage, we’re interested to hear from other businesses and industries that might be interested in trialling out our new machine.”

Civic is also currently trialling a new ‘bin-housing’ design for wheelie bins that will prevent more than one million plastic bags going to landfill each year, lower the cost of public bins and reduce the need for waste collections given the larger capacity for waste.

The bin-housing is designed and constructed in New Zealand from recycled and recyclable plastic. It will be safer and easier for Civic staff to empty, and reduce the high number of muscular injuries (typically back strains) that occur within the waste industry due to manual emptying of waste from bins.

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