Household rubbish and animal waste to power Stagecoach buses

Posted: 27 May 2011 | Stagecoach | No comments yet

Stagecoach has launched a fleet of greener buses powered by household rubbish and animal waste…

Stagecoach launched a fleet of greener buses powered by household rubbish and animal waste.

The recycled waste is converted into biomethane, which will reduce carbon emissions from the buses by up to 40% and help cut landfill.

The innovative project has been launched in Lincoln, in partnership with Lincolnshire County Council and the East Midlands Development Agency, and involves 11 Optare Solo buses which have been converted to run on the low carbon fuel.

The direct £260,000 conversion costs have been funded by Lincolnshire County Council and the East Midlands Development Agency with Stagecoach East Midlands providing the buses from its Lincoln fleet. A further £100,000 joint funding has been invested in fuelling infrastructure.

The biomethane gas used to power the buses is derived from natural household and animal waste. The vehicle initially runs on diesel but a special gas electronic control system gradually reduces the use of the fossil fuel replacing it with biomethane without affecting the characteristics or performance of the bus. The converted vehicles are expected to deliver at least a 40% carbon savings compared to standard buses as well as improving fuel consumption. All 11 vehicles have also been fully refurbished.

In England, 11.9 million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill each year.* The project will benefit the environment by converting household waste, which would otherwise go to landfill, into biomethane fuel.

The launch, which took place today at the Whisby Landfill site and the Epic Centre at the Lincolnshire Showground also marks the final day of this year’s Stagecoach Green Week, an annual event held by the transport group to demonstrate the measures it is taking to reduce its carbon footprint as well as encouraging greener lifestyle choices among staff and customers.

Launching the biomethane project, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Brian Souter said: “Waste is a big issue for every family and household up and down the country and councils now face major taxes for landfill. This is an innovative way of taking something that’s a big problem for society and turning it into a fuel of the future. It means we can offer greener travel to our customers and cut our own carbon footprint.

“You could say it’s another ‘rubbish’ idea from Stagecoach! But we certainly hope it will help make a big difference to the local environment in the community.”

Councillor William Webb, Lincolnshire County Council Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “This project is another good example of a county council initiative helping to create a low-carbon future for Lincolnshire’s transport. There is a growing need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as approximately 40% of Lincolnshire’s CO2 emissions are associated with transportation. Using BioMethane – which is virtually carbon neutral – as an alternative transport fuel should help produce significant environmental benefits for us all.”

Diana Gilhespy, Executive Director of Regeneration at emda, said: “We are delighted that these bio-methane buses are being trialled by Stagecoach in Lincolnshire. emda part-funded this project because we feel it is vitally important to explore innovative ideas for reducing carbon emissions in the East Midlands transport industry. We are hopeful that the trials will prove to be successful in proving the effectiveness of this technology, and that as a result, more buses will be converted to run on bio-methane fuel in future.”

Stagecoach Group has launched a sustainability strategy and is investing £11million in a range of measures to meet its environmental targets. The Group is targeting an overall reduction of 8% in buildings CO2 emissions and a cut of 3% in annual fleet transport CO2e emissions by 2014. It follows a reduction in the carbon intensity of its UK businesses of 5.7% in the three years to 30 April 2009.

It is estimated the five-year programme, from 2009-10 to 2013-14, will save a total of nearly 150,000 tonnes of CO2e, with the Group’s annual emissions reduced by around 40,000 tonnes CO2e by April 2014.

In 2007, Stagecoach launched the UK’s first Bio-buses which operate on 100% bio-fuel made from used cooking oil and other food industry by-products. The project also allows customers to exchange their used cooking oil for discounted bus travel. The Bio Bus scheme in Kilmarnock has reduced CO2 emissions from the vehicles by 80%, saving 2450 tonnes of carbon and more than 2 million passengers have used the Bio Buses since the project was introduced. More than 70 tonnes of used cooking oil has been recycled at East Ayrshire Council’s recycling plant since the start of the scheme.

Last year, Stagecoach Group was awarded the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard after taking action on climate change by measuring and reducing its carbon emissions. Stagecoach is the first Scottish-based transport group – and one of only two listed UK public transport operators – to have achieved the stretching carbon reduction benchmark. It covers all of the Group’s bus and rail operations in the UK.

Stagecoach is leading the way on investing in greener vehicles and has placed orders for 142 hybrid electric buses in the past year which deliver a 30% reduction in carbon emissions compared to standard vehicles. Hybrid electric vehicles are already in operation in Oxford and Manchester and more will be introduced across the UK within the next 12 months.

The company also recently announced a multi-million-pound investment in a hi-tech eco-driving system, by Green Road, which is expected to reduce fuel consumption at its UK Bus division by 4%. The scheme also offers employees the chance to earn “green points” that are converted into financial benefits from a potential £900,000 annual bonus pot.

Stagecoach has also recently installed a new ‘intelligent’ lighting system – which uses movement sensors to determine the amount of light required – at six depots across the UK. Based on previous trials, it is expected that the system could reduce the energy consumption used on lighting at the six depots by around 40% as a result of the ‘intelligent’ nature of the technology. This would produce an annual saving of more than 373,000 kilowatts per hour (KWh) and save almost 230 tonnes of CO2 over the course of a year.

For further information about Stagecoach bus services, visit

*Taken from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) collected waste quarterly statistics.

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