Newcastle City Council's drive for a greener future has reached a new milestone with the introduction of a hybrid-electric vehicle to the city's waste management fleet.
The Toyota Corolla hybrid, the first of three expected to join the fleet this year, will help waste coordinators save around 4,000 litres of fuel and eight tonnes of carbon emissions (per car over 100,000kms ) on rounds repairing bins and liaising with residents.
Following a range of energy-saving measures by council and its eager embrace of renewables, the move to hybrids presages a future in which quieter, vastly more efficient electric garbage trucks service the city.
Waste collections coordinator Dan Radford (left) receives the keys to the Toyota hybrid from Darren North at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre.
"This new car is an important step in our quest to improve the energy efficiency of our operations," Council's Waste Manager Darren North said.
"We're closely following the development of electric powered or hybrid garbage trucks, and once the technology is up to the testing task of daily rounds, and the trucks pose real value for rate payers, we will consider adding them to our fleet.
"The tender for our own solar farm here at Summerhill was announced last week and it would be invaluable in assisting with the cost effectiveness of these types of vehicles."
The shiny blue auto handed over to waste collections coordinator Dan Radford this week was the second hybrid purchased by council, after the Lord Mayor's Toyota Camry.
The Corolla will use up to 50 per cent less fuel than the 2wd utility it replaces and complies with council's fleet policy to consider green ratings, fuel consumption, safety, and whole-of-life costs.
The move comes after council recently joined the Cities Power Partnership, a Climate Council program in which cities pledge key actions to reduce their climate impact.
Promoting sustainable transport, though electric vehicles and cycling, and installing energy-efficient LED lighting around the city are among the key actions, as are Summerhill's solar farm and eight existing solar set-ups.
Under the council-endorsed Newcastle 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, Council is progressing renewable energy generation and energy efficiency.
"One of these targets is to generate 30 per cent of our energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, which will become a reality when council builds a 5MW solar farm at Summerhill," Interim CEO Jeremy Bath said.
"Since 2012, rooftop solar systems have been installed at Council's works depot at Waratah, at Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle Library, New Lambton Library, at No.1 and No.2 sportsgrounds
and at the museum."
Energy-efficient retrofits at popular cultural and recreational centres have already helped slash council’s electricity consumption.
A landfill gas generator and small wind turbine at Summerhill, and a battery storage system at No.2 Sportsground, are also part of the efficiency drive.