Waste collection crews and residents in West Lothian have begun reaping the benefits of a decision by the local authority to invest in a new fleet of Mercedes-Benz refuse trucks.
Five 26-tonne Mercedes Econic 2629LLs are being drafted in as West Lothian Council steps up its drive to achieve a 40 per cent recycling rate by 2010.
The new trucks feature operative-friendly, air-conditioned low-entry cabs, clean, 'green' BlueTec® engines that meet tough Euro 5 emissions standards which do not come into force until October 2009, and rear-steer axles for extra manoeuvrability.
Supplied by Broxburn dealer Western Commercial, they are fitted with Faun compactor bodies and split Zoeller bin lifts. The first unit is already in service, with the remaining four scheduled to follow over the coming weeks.
Although West Lothian Council has successfully operated Mercedes vans and all-terrain Unimog trucks in the past, the Econics are its first refuse vehicles to wear the three-pointed star. They replace older units that are being stood down.
West Lothian Council's Fleet & Community Transport Manager Joe Drew is responsible for some 150 vehicles, including 25 refuse trucks, the majority of which are 26-tonners.
“We are committed to achieving recycling targets set by the Scottish Government and these new Mercedes trucks will play a key role in helping us to do so,” he confirms.
“Western Commercial supplied us with a demonstration unit and it was very well received by our crews, who particularly like the low-entry cab. It's a lot lower than our existing refuse vehicles and that makes a big difference when you're in and out of the vehicle all day.”
Mr Drew continues: “Mercedes-Benz was able to supply the chassis within a shorter timeframe than our existing supplier, while the dealer has also been professional and provided a decent service.
“So we will now be monitoring the performance and cost-effectiveness of our new Econics in operation over a protracted period, to see whether they live up to their promise.”
Executive Councillor for the Environment Robert De Bold, adds: “Our investment in these new refuse trucks highlights our commitment to achieving a 40 per cent recycling rate by 2010. It is important to us that we provide our employees with first class equipment and these new trucks have proved popular with crews, given their comfort and practical features.”
West Lothian Council undertakes kerbside collections of grey, blue and brown bins from some 74,000 households, the majority of them in towns such as Livingston, Broxburn, Bathgate and Linlithgow.
Grey bins are used for landfill waste and blue bins for dry recyclables such as cans, paper and plastic bottles. Brown bins are for organic garden waste.
The council recently withdrew from the Lothian & Borders Waste Management Project and is now developing plans to set up its own waste treatment plant, which should be operational by December 2011.