How Athens Services is using CNG to drive a zero-waste future

Dounded in 1957, Athens Services is the largest independent recycling and solid waste services company in the County of Los Angeles. Local and family-owned, Athens currently has more than 1,500 employees and serves more than 250,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers.

  • With the goal of a zero-waste future and sustainable use of the Earth’s resources, Athens is using a phase-in plan to convert its entire fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • Challenged to support the fueling needs of its near-zero emissions fleet, Athens is building a CNG fueling station
  • Using CNG, Athens won the most zones in the City of Los Angeles’ new franchise system to achieve waste reduction goals.
  • At ACT Expo 2017, Athens achieved pioneer status, showing the first Autocar refuse truck with a Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero engine.
Community + Commerce

As a local, family-owned waste collection and recycling company with over 1,500 employees, all in California, Athens Services has always had a strong connection to where it operates. Believing in a zero-waste future, the company is highly engaged in sustainable thinking when it comes to Earth’s resources and has a fleet that is 71% CNG+LNG and rising. Being ahead of the curve when it comes to environmental impacts put Athens Services in the perfect position to help the City of Los Angeles meet its goal of 75% recycling, composting or source reduction of solid waste by 2020. After the City of Los Angeles created a new franchise system with 11 zones and solicited RFPs, it awarded Athens Services the most zones — West Los Angeles, North Central, and Harbor — and the most customers — about 22,000. “Because we are taking on a slightly larger market share, we hired drivers, recycling coordinators and customer service representatives, and ordered more than 100 near-zero emissions vehicles,” says Gary Clifford, Executive Vice President of Athens Services. By utilizing clean-fuel trucks, Athens will help California meet its goal of reducing current greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.

“Taking on a slightly larger market share, we ordered more than 100 near zero emissions vehicles"

Gary Clifford


Executive Vice President of Athens Services

Pioneering Partnerships

Given its plan to convert the entire Athens Services fleet to CNG, the company has found it to be worth investing both in innovation and infrastructure. Working with Cummins, Athens was able to show the first Autocar refuse truck with a Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero engine at ACT Expo 2017. Athens uses Hexagon Agility's CNG fuel storage systems on its refuse collection and roll-off trucks. And Athens recently hired Trillium to design, build and maintain a CNG fueling station for Athens Services in Pacoima, California, north of Los Angeles. Athens previously partnered with Trillium on CNG stations in Irwindale and La Puente. The new private station will provide CNG fuel for approximately 110 Athens Services' refuse trucks, with Trillium procuring renewable natural gas (RNG) for the station. “When combined with Cummins near-zero emissions CNG engines, the use of RNG significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” the company says.

Positive Impact

Currently, Athens Services serves the cities of Redondo Beach and Altadena with CNG collection vehicles only. And its entire fleet of street-sweeping trucks is powered by alternative fuels. Positive results of this business practice have included less occupational exposure and health related issues associated with diesel exhaust and decreased noise pollution due to quieter engines. This is beneficial to both drivers and community members. Internally, Athens has noticed an extended vehicle life and reduced petroleum costs and consumption. And as far as the greater environmental impact, each of Athens’ near-zero emissions vehicles reduces greenhouse gases at a rate equivalent to taking 225 cars off the road. Its natural gas engines reduce NOx emissions by 90 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 49 percent, and the engines' closed crankcase ventilation (CCV) design reduces engine-related methane emissions by 70 percent.