Images courtesy of Biffa and Lunaz

Biffa & LUNAZ Partner To Up-Cycle Refuse Collection Trucks In The UK

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After a long wait, we are starting to see more traction in the brand new heavy electric truck sector. Volvo, Scania, DAF, and several other manufacturers of heavy electric trucks are scaling up production. They are working across the board including electric trucks for applications in critical areas such as in the construction and mining sector, including tippers, mixers, and cranes. Renault has also recently carried out some pilots in the UK for electric concrete mixers.

As we wait for the production of brand new heavy electric trucks to hit higher volumes, one of the best ways to accelerate the adoption of electric trucks is by converting the current global fleet to electric. This is probably one of the segments where perhaps it makes the most sense from a financial perspective. Converting the current fleet to electric presents many advantages, including local job creation alongside the overall benefits associated with promoting the circular economy. 

In Australia, Janus Electric is integrating its swappable battery packs into old electric trucks. Now in the UK, Lunaz has just announced an exciting partnership with Biffa, where existing diesel refuse trucks will be upcycled instead of scrapped, as Biffa transitions its fleet to zero-emissions powertrains. Each ‘Upcycled Electric Vehicle’ will emit zero tailpipe emissions and save 21 tonnes of embedded carbon, versus replacing with a new vehicle. 

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Lunaz says its ‘1 for 1’ policy ensures the decommissioning of every fossil fuel engine before recycling its components, effectively removing a polluting vehicle from the global car park with every vehicle it electrifies. For UK councils, the procurement of these vehicles represents a significant savings for the taxpayer, with more than £1 million in public money saved for every 20 vehicles upcycled and electrified, versus buying new EV equivalents. Biffa is an established leader of sustainable waste management in the UK with over 100 years of experience. Biffa has committed to reducing emissions by 50% by 2030, building on a 70% reduction since 2002, and to cease buying fossil-fueled trucks as soon as practicable.

Lunaz has a capacity to upcycle over 1,110 industrial vehicles every year, and has committed to expanding its UK upcycling and electrification footprint to meet surging demand for electrified vehicles in the run-up to the 2030 ban on the sale of fossil-fueled vehicles. The two firms say there are significant benefits for the British economy, as Biffa and Lunaz are pioneering growth in circular practices at a critical time, supporting more than 300 jobs and a new, green capability.

The partners are taking a long term approach with this fleet electrification electrification and upcycling agreement. Lunaz has committed to supporting the transition of Biffa’s existing diesel refuse trucks over the next decade to clean air electric powertrains through its proprietary upcycling and electrification process and technology. This multi-year production program is expected to see growing numbers of vehicles delivered to Biffa over the mid-term. With an initial order of up to ten 26-tonne Upcycled Electric Vehicle (UEV) refuse trucks saving up to 210 tonnes in embedded carbon. Following the successful completion of technical trials and due diligence, first deliveries will take place for operations on UK refuse collection routes in 2023. Biffa’s UEV refuse trucks will operate on both commercial and municipal waste collection routes.

Lunaz says every upcycled electric vehicle it produces saves 82% of the embedded carbon within that vehicle. For context, at full capacity, Lunaz’ factory in Silverstone, UK, will save the equivalent weight of the Eiffel Tower every year in embedded carbon by upcycling rather than scraping existing fleet vehicles. Lunaz says that a Lunaz UEV represents a significant Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) saving versus either existing diesel equivalents or new EVs. This accelerates the adoption of clean air vehicles by creating a more economically viable route to fleet transition.

Maxine Mayhew, Biffa COO Collection & Specialist Services, said:

I am thrilled to announce Biffa and Lunaz’ fleet electrification and upcycling partnership. As the UK’s leading sustainable waste management company we are committed to enabling the circular economy while reducing emissions and carbon expenditure in every aspect of our business. By working with Lunaz to meet our goal of buying no more fossil fuelled vehicles by 2030 while breaking the replace-with-new cycle, we pioneer an approach in this industry that saves millions of tonnes in embedded carbon. I am proud that every electric vehicle upcycled by Lunaz for Biffa’s fleet will mean one less tailpipe emission emitting vehicle for our planet. This long-term partnership with Lunaz is a major pillar in our collective effort to achieve our 2030 commitments. We are proud to work with an innovative UK company to realise the transformational power of upcycling to save thousands of tonnes of embedded carbon in our transition to clean-air refuse truck fleets.”

David Lorenz, Founder & CEO of Lunaz, added:

Biffa has led from the front in pioneering more sustainable waste management practices here in the UK. At Lunaz, we are proud to assist in delivering Biffa’s sustained commitment to leading the waste management industry’s transition to net zero. By embracing the power of upcycling as a dramatically more sustainable course to the transition to a clean air fleet, Biffa delivers economic value to its stakeholders while delivering a great ecological dividend to the planet. By finding new life for diesel-emitting vehicles, we are delighted to stand together with a leading UK company in creating the potential to reduce global emissions at scale.”

David Beckham, The football superstar who played for Real Madrid, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy, and investor in Lunaz, says: This deal is a strong endorsement of Lunaz’ innovative approach to finding sustainable solutions and I’m delighted to be an investor in this fast growing and exciting British company.

David Lorenz also said, “We have built Lunaz to answer the critical requirement to transition global industrial vehicle fleets to clean-air powertrains while reversing the ecologically damaging cycle of replacing-with-new. In taking a leadership position, Biffa presents commercial and municipal clients with a solution that is better for the planet, for stakeholders and the taxpayer. This solution represents sustainability without functional and financial penalty and the ultimate win-win for operators and local authorities.”

Lunaz says each UEV has been designed based on primary research in the field, dramatically improving the carbon impact of these vehicles and contributing to quieter and cleaner communities in which they operate. The upcycling process also creates significant functional and operational advantages. In collaboration with Biffa’s technical team, Lunaz’ 150 specialist engineers are developing key modifications exactly tailored to Biffa, its clients, and its drivers’ operational requirements. This includes the ability to tailor the size of the powertrain to a specific route profile, enabled by the Lunaz modular proprietary powertrain. This means for shorter, more urban routes. Biffa is not burdened with the extra cost and weight of an overspecified battery-pack. 

Also included are critical enhancements to the cabin to augment significant safety improvements. This includes the use of 360° cameras with person and cyclist detection, and the re-location of the handbrake to ensure drivers never need to take their hands off the wheel. Lunaz says the camera monitoring system also dramatically improves driver awareness. Two assemblies containing three cameras are mounted on the top corners of the UEV, feeding digitized rear-view mirrors. The screens also feature object detection, highlighting cyclists, pedestrians, and potential hazards to the driver. Unlike standard mirrors, these operate under all conditions, including rain, snow, and total darkness, dramatically increasing safety.

Lunaz says its UEV refuse trucks have been developed following live operator feedback, with Lunaz engineers frequently taking part in refuse truck rounds to ensure an intimate understanding of front-line requirements. Critical enhancements to driver comfort and operation have been included, ensuring Biffa’s operational crew feel the benefit of the latest technology and innovations.

The refuse collection industry is perfect for electrification due to the nature of their routes and well known schedules. Many residents will appreciate quieter vehicles doing the rounds in their neighborhoods as well.


Images courtesy of Biffa and Lunaz

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 775 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai