To put it bluntly, John Winter didn't expect much from the 2010 emission control technology his company signed on to pilot test. In fact, Winter, fleet director for BFI Canada, a division of Toronto-based waste conglomerate IESI-BFC Ltd., pretty much resigned himself to dealing with any number of issues like the ones that arose the last time emission regulations were strengthened, back in 2007.

But an interesting thing happened — or, more appropriately, didn't happen. During BFI Canada's six-week pilot test with a Mack TerraPro front loader equipped with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emission control system, the truck largely functioned like the rest of the vehicles in the fleet and without any hiccups.

This emission issue is critical for both U.S. and Canadian refuse haulers alike because both operate under the same truck emissions standards — standards harmonized between the United States and Canada decades ago.

“Increasingly, the general approach to setting vehicle emissions standards in Canada is to harmonize them with U.S. EPA federal emission standards as much as possible,” noted the 2001 report “Trucks and Air Emissions” issued by the Air Pollution Prevention Directorate within Environment Canada, that country's version of the EPA.

In 1988, Canadian on-road vehicle emission standards were first aligned with the U.S. standards. In February 2001, Canadian measures designed to continue the harmonization of on-road emission standards were implemented, as well as ones that aligned emission requirements for off-road engines and diesel fuels with U.S. EPA standards.

Winter says that when the 2007 emission-compliant models arrived, the diesel particulate filters (DPFs) on those vehicles created an enormous headache, with Mack having to reprogram the software controlling those components three times. This time around, the SCR system and even the DPF worked well, with little interaction needed by drivers.

“I was pretty skeptical when we got this new truck, to tell you the truth,” Winter says. “The DPF system alone gave us a lot of problems back in 2007, and we thought the same situation might occur with the 2010 technology. But it didn't. In fact, it's pretty much a non-event.”

As an added bonus, the test truck showed improved fuel economy when compared to the hauler's other vehicles. BFI Canada is reporting that fuel consumption with the 2010-compliant truck was approximately 2 liters per hour (L/H) less than the average for the rest of the fleet. (Refuse and other low-mileage/high operating hours vocational fleets frequently measure fuel efficiency in consumption per hour.)

For BFI Canada, a 2 L/H savings translates into 18 liters of fuel conserved per day. Converting for U.S. haulers, that's equal to about 4.72 gallons of diesel per day. At $2.80 (U.S.) per gallon, that equals $13.26 U.S. in fuel savings every day. Furthermore, fuel economy typically improves after an engine has been broken in.

However, with SCR, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), an ammonia-based liquid that is 67.5 percent water, needs to be consumed as well. BFI Canada reported that its test truck consumed about 1.3 gallons of DEF per day. At a cost of $2.75 US per gallon, the truck consumed about $3.58 worth of DEF per day, netting the fleet $9.68 US in savings every day.

"Typically, every year we've gone through an emission change [2002 and 2007], we've ended up with lower fuel economy," Winter says. "Now, we're actually seeing an improvement in fuel economy. This is a pretty good change."