London’s Evolving Defensive Front Against Air Pollution

With ambition to drive down air pollution in London, the UK’s first fully electric waste collection truck has been trialled in the nation’s capital. ‘Electra’, the 26-tonne truck, is designed for urban environments and runs on lithium-ion batteries. The charge allows the truck to perform for 10 hour shift intervals at a time before requiring a recharge. The trial period is set to last just 2 months in the Smithfield area, and that dependent on success the vehicle will also be trialled in another 2 cities within the UK later on in the year.

Currently, the city’s refuse vehicles collect 1500 tonnes of household waste per month, and over 850 tonnes of recycling a year. Electra is the UK’s first fully electric, low entry refuse collection vehicle and crucially, it creates zero diesel emissions. The complete electric truck shows great promise for the future of air pollution and waste management in urban environments. Chairman of the City of London's Corporation environment committee is quoted as saying “Our ambition is to have a full fleet of clean refuse vehicles. We are taking responsibility for the cleanliness of all our vehicles, encouraging the use of low and zero emission models with our partners,” he continued. “It complements the work we are doing to help City businesses cut back on vehicle deliveries and use more hybrid models.”

Further support of the fully electric truck can be demonstrated by Commercial Director of NRG Fleet services, Russell Markstein added “This truck can deliver zero emissions rubbish collection in the Square Mile and long term, it could be a big step forward.

The governing body, City of London Corporation, views the issue of Air quality with great importance and regard, they work continuously with organisations to combat this issue through its City Air Programme.

So much so that in January, they launched a cargo bike delivery scheme to help City organisations tackle toxic air by shifting deliveries away from diesel powered vehicles such as vans to cargo bicycles.

The scheme also aims to crack down on London-wide drivers who leave their engine idling and through its City Air app (27,000 active users in London), offers low pollution travel routes, avoiding any highly polluted areas by offering advice through alerts etc.

2016 saw the City Corporation agreeing a deal with London's largest private hire taxi firm; Addison Lee. The deal saw the agreement for hybrid taxis to automatically switch to ‘electric mode’ in key areas of the Square Mile. Furthermore, included was the banning of diesel vehicle purchases from its own fleet, where there is a clean alternative.

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