A new fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks will be clearing away residents' trash while helping to clear the air in central Ohio, Waste Management officials said.

A new fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks will be clearing away residents' trash while helping to clear the air in central Ohio, Waste Management officials said.

Company spokesperson Beth Sch-mucker said approval of a zoning variance from the city's planning and zoning commission has put Waste Management on the road to installing its first Ohio-based CNG filling station and CNG-powered fleet in Canal Winchester.

"There were a lot of business factors taken into consideration before ultimately choosing our (Canal Winchester) location to be our first CNG station in Ohio," Schmucker said.

Currently, Waste Management runs 12 hauling districts in Ohio. The Columbus district has a fleet of 65 diesel-powered trucks, 25 of which will be replaced with new CNG-powered vehicles, she said.

"The company as a whole has a sustainability goal which includes reducing emissions by 15 percent while increasing fuel efficiency by 15 percent by the year 2020," Schmucker said. "Currently, we have 17,000 vehicles, with 1,400 CNG vehicles on the road, and we'll start with 25 (CNG) here. Then over the next couple of years, we'll completely replace our diesel fleet with CNG vehicles."

Waste Management's commitment to reducing pollution also carries several economic benefits for the company, she said.

"The current price of CNG is about $1.50 a gallon of fuel while diesel is more like $3.80 a gallon. That's a quite significant amount of savings," Schmucker said. "It's also a cleaner fuel that's easier on the trucks, so we'll have lower maintenance costs and more efficient trucks. Between the economical and environmental savings, this is a win-win all the way around."

Schmucker would not comment on the overall cost but said the company believes the project is in its best interests and hopes to break ground at the Walnut Street location by April. She said plans are to have the new CNG filling station and fleet up and running by August this year.

"We have the design of the facility completed and part of what we've included is that down the road, there would be the possibility of adding a retail facility for external customers," Schmucker said. "That's been a very important part of the planning process - including that capacity for external customers if the demand is there for it."

Waste Management will be required to submit a site plan to the city for approval prior to construction, and depending on the plan, further zoning variances may need to be reviewed, planning and zoning administrator Andrew Dutton said.

"We're very excited about converting to CNG trucks here in Ohio and continuing to expand that effort of environment and economic benefits that help our company meet its sustainability goals," Schmucker said.