It's big, it's green, it feeds on vegetable oil and may be coming down a street in your town soon. No, it's not the Green Lantern, but it is the Tuckahoe veggie oil garbage truck.
On the road since 2008 and 2009 respectively, there are two veggie trucks that traverse the one square mile village daily picking up trash and recyclables.
Back in '08, when the village began to look at ways to save money and be more environmentally conscious, Superintendent of Public Works Frank DiMarco discovered there was a way to convert a vehicle that runs on diesel fuel to one that runs on vegetable oil.
The cost of the conversion kit was about $4,300, and it would cost an additional $5,000 to convert the truck. But the village's lead mechanic, Joseph Tavolilla, said he could save that $5,000 and install the kit himself.
Tavolilla, a mechanic with more than 20 years of experience, went to work installing a wiring system, tapping into the existing cooling system, and outfitting the truck cab with gauges, switches and relays among other steps
"We were able to modify each truck in a 9-day modification process," Tavolilla said.
The next step was purchasing oil-refining equipment that cleans the cooking oil and prepares it for use in the trucks. That kit, purchased from a company called Fryer to Fuel, cost about $2500, Tavolilla said.
Now on its regular route, staffers at the department of sanitation stop at local restaurants to pick up their used cooking oil. The oil is returned to the garage, where it is processed and purified, then pumped into the trucks just like regular diesel fuel.
Tavoliila said that each truck uses about 75 gallons of veggie oil each week, which is the same amount used if the trucks used diesel fuel.
"The difference is is that we save approximately $35,000 in fuel costs," Tavolilla said. "Plus we help our town and our local restaurants and most important, the environment."
The veggie truck runs five days a week and reportedly collects more than 400 tons of garbage each year.
While Tavolilla takes the credit for the conversion and the upkeep of the trucks, he said the whole idea came from DiMarco.
But DiMarco gives high marks to Tavolilla for making the conversion and the savings a reality.
"With out Joseph, none of this would have been possible," he said.
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