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Keeping London clean and safe with Scania ‘dustcarts’

When pedestrians, cyclists and heavy vehicles mix in a dense city designed in medieval times, safety has to be top priority for all involved. Waste management company Simply Waste relies on Scania trucks and state-of-the-art technology to make London a safer metropolis.

About 70 cyclists are killed in the British capital every year. Trucks are involved in more than half of these fatal accidents and in more than a fifth of pedestrian deaths – despite making up only 4 percent of motor traffic.

This is the unpleasant reality that confronts Simply Waste, one of the largest independently-owned waste management companies in the United Kingdom. Collecting 250,000 tonnes of waste for recycling each year in and around the capital, the work places great demands on all involved - from CEO James Capel to all the drivers who have to be on their toes for every second they are on the streets.


Big vehicles, small places

“I believe London is one of the most challenging operating environments in the UK, and potentially in Europe. One of the challenges we face is that we have some of the biggest vehicles going into some of the smallest places, partly because of the city’s medieval design. The design of buildings is such that we don’t have a lot of space to manoeuvre,” explains James Capel.

configured for the capital

“We really consider safety at being at the heart of what we do, and we spend considerable sums on ensuring that our vehicle fleet is equipped with the latest up-to-date technology, to ensure everybody’s safety,” says Capel.

“Scania has been great in providing us with vehicles specifically designed for highly urbanised environments. We work very closely with Scania to come up with a vehicle configuration that makes it easy for us to get around the streets of London.”

Banning bad trucks

A significant proportion of cyclist deaths involving trucks in London happen when the truck turns left across the cyclist’s path, with the driver unable to properly see anything in a large area around the truck, or when the driver does not properly check all their mirrors.

“All of our Scania vehicles are equipped to be much more manoeuvrable, which is excellent in a highly-urbanised operating environment and much safer for our crews. But we also concentrate on using monitoring equipment such as radar detection, 360-degree camera systems, to ensure that everybody in and around our vehicles are as safe as they can be,” Capel explains.

In 2016, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that tens of thousands of trucks with poor visibility would be banned from London’s roads by 2020, to better protect cyclists and pedestrians.


New Scania trucks improve drivers’ vision

“All the new Scanias have a greatly-improved field of vision because of narrower A-pillars and larger windows. They are also equipped with the new side door window,” says Capel.

Implementing new technologies in response to rapid changes in urban environments is key for a company like Simply Waste. Capel sees several changing demands from customers, both public and private.

“One of the big challenges coming up is just-in-time collections. Real estate is getting more expensive so people can’t afford to store anything – and definitely not waste. Collections need to be carried out in a more timely fashion and we need to be able to guarantee that those collections are being made on time. We need to ensure our vehicles are as reliable as they can be to meet those deadlines and ensure that our customers are not kept waiting.”


Alternative fuels to play a key role

As in all big urban areas, change and development take place quickly in Greater London. James Capel follows these developments closely, continuously updating his fleet of “rolling dustcarts”.

“Right now, I think there are two big considerations for us: The quantity of people living and working in London, and therefore the clash between cyclists and pedestrians and vehicles, and the other major issue I believe is going to be air quality.

With a commitment to sustainability and smart and safe transport like that shown by Simply Waste and Scania, London’s streets can become safer and cleaner.


“We are already seeing evidence of new policies taking shape to improve air quality in highly urbanised areas. That is likely to impact us somewhere in the very near future. Alternative fuels are going to play a huge part, and potentially the electrification of heavy goods vehicles.”

James Capel

CEO, Simply Waste