Waste Management of Illinois Inc. has opened what it called the largest commercial compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility in the state.

The Houston-based company said in a news release the facility, in Stickney, is  equipped with 55 "slow-fuel" stations for its CNG trucks. Waste Management currently operates more than 30 CNG trucks in the Chicago area and will have more than 80 in the region by the end of the year, making it Illinois' largest commercial CNG refuse truck fleet, the company claims.

Trucks deployed from the facility are used on Chicago recycling collection routes that serve approximately 90,000 households, Chicago-area commercial routes and municipal collection routes in the western suburbs, including Oak Park and Westchester.

The approximately 57,000-square-foot fueling site receives its natural gas from a nearby Nicor Gas line. The site is equipped with dual compressors feeding gas to the fueling stations.

The Waste Management trucks are fueled using the slow-fill procedure to improve efficiency and carry approximately 58 diesel equivalent gallons of CNG. The CNG trucks can carry between five and eight tons of material, the same payload as traditional collection vehicles, and can run 10 to 12 hours.

The facility includes a public, easy-access "Clean N' Green" retail station equipped with four "fast-fuel" pumps that can be used by individuals, companies or municipalities operating CNG vehicles. PetroCard will operate the facility for Waste Management.

"We are rapidly transitioning to using clean-burning fuels like CNG in our collection vehicles in the Chicago area," said Steve Batchelor, Waste Management area vice president for Illinois and Indiana. "Our new Stickney CNG facility represents a substantial commitment that will allow us to independently support our growing CNG fleet in Chicago and across northeastern Illinois."

The Stickney facility is Waste Management's second in the Chicago area. Its Wheeling CNG site opened last May to serve Chicago's northern suburbs.