Fleet Tech Forges Ahead, But Some Bide Time on Higher-Stake EV Investments

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The pandemic may have strained finances for some waste and recycling collectors looking to upgrade their operations. But falling costs and ESG pressures could boost EVs, routing software and more.

Local government budgets have been stretched and strained during the past year in previously unimaginable ways. Even with hundreds of billions of dollars in help potentially on the way to state and municipal operations, collection services are still expected to face worker absences and record levels of trash and recycling to manage.

The circumstances have required certain haulers and municipalities to at least temporarily change the services they offer. Still, some companies and governments are weighing imminent investments in new, customizable technologies aiming to make collection safer and more efficient, while lowering fleets’ environmental impact — one of the buzziest and most capital-intensive areas being around electric trucks.

In Baltimore for example, where citywide curbside recycling just restarted following a more than four-month hiatus, the pandemic ended up being the tipping point for acquiring logistics software from Rubicon. That nearly $792,000 investment via an emergency contract sets the city up to use the turn-by-turn route optimization product for a year, said Baltimore Department of Public Works’ John Chalmers, who heads the bureau of solid waste.

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