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First in Canada GFL electric garbage truck at home in Squamish

Squamish is serving as a test case for this first truck, so that the company and other municipalities can learn from how it does here.

Its pet name is Zappy, and you will likely see it before you hear it.

Squamish’s GFL Environmental Inc. (GFL) has the company’s first all-electric automated side loader (ASL) truck that started picking up trash for residents of Squamish and the Sea to Sky this month.

The truck is being used to service a residential collection route in town.

Squamish GFL gave media, local councillors and District officials a peek at the truck and a tour led by Dave Gray, GFL Squamish’s operations manager, on Thursday, Dec. 8.

(GFL plans to do more show-and-tells for folks in the new year. Those interested can get their name on a list at

A spokesperson told The Squamish Chief that the truck is currently operational for five hours per charge — about 200 kilometres — with an anticipated 40% increase coming with next-generation batteries expected in the new year.

It currently runs on four 600-volt lithium batteries.

It has regenerative braking, meaning it sends power back to the batteries.

The rest of the truck daily— like the hydraulic system — operates like the other trucks in the fleet.

It can hold about six tonnes of trash, while a regular truck can take eight tonnes. 

The electrical grid to GFL’s operations had to be upgraded to facilitate Zappy. Squamish Fire Rescue members also came by to have a look at it as there are different considerations with electric vehicles, should there ever be a fire (don’t touch the orange wires, for example, which is  a standard warning for electric vehicles of all kinds).

The facts

The shiny green truck's chassis was built at Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania; its body was mounted at Labrie Automizer in Quebec.

A mobile charger, a little different from the ones you see for cars around town, is kept at GFL Squamish for its overnight charging.

Why Squamish?

Squamish is serving as a test case for this first truck, so that the company and other municipalities can learn from what works and what doesn't. Daily analytics are collected on how it does in different weather, temperatures and terrain. 

“We have deployed this truck as a pilot because electric truck technology, in general, is still in development, especially in heavy-duty applications like ours," a spokesperson told The Chief in an email.  "In line with our company name, ‘Green for Life,’ we continue to look at every opportunity to ‘green’ our fleet and are working with manufacturers to improve and implement electric truck technology wherever feasible.”

Squamish was chosen due to its values and the terrain that allows the truck to be tested in various ways.

“Our community is very eco-minded, innovative and forward-thinking,” said Denise Imbeau, general manager of GFL’s Squamish facility, in a news release. “Investment in electric technology aligns with the values of this community and demonstrates the commitment GFL has to our community and our planet.”

A first of its kind for GFL, the electric truck operates with a near-silent powertrain, produces no exhaust emissions and charges fully in eight hours overnight.

“The residents of Squamish share a deep connection with the environment, making it the perfect location to put our first fully electric truck to work in Canada,” the spokesperson added.

According to GFL, approximately 15% of its collection fleet is fuelled with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and the introduction of the electric truck represents another step toward its low-carbon goal.

“Electric charging is a stepping-stone toward alternative fuels and carbon reduction,” said Tyler Stefure, GFL’s fleet director for western Canada, in the release. “Technology is advancing, and this is a step in the right direction. It’s exciting for GFL to be a part of this advancement in Squamish.”

~With files from Andrew Hughes/The Squamish Chief