ROCKVILLE, MD - In an effort to help reduce greenhouse gas, help improve local air quality and save money, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Solid Waste Services (DSWS) has put into service the first 20 of 100 refuse and recycling collection trucks powered with compressed natural gas.

The first 20 trucks were used for the first time in April. Twenty additional trucks will enter service July 1, and the remaining 60 vehicles will be phased in over the next two years.

Running on compressed natural gas allows the trucks to operate much quieter than their diesel-powered predecessors. The brightly colored blue and white trucks display the message "Think Green, Breathe Clean, Compressed Natural Gas."

Nationwide figures indicate that, on the average, CNG costs are 15 percent less than diesel fuel. Moreover, 97 percent of the natural gas used in the U.S. is produced in the country.

"The cost-effectiveness of CNG vehicles is just another bonus, considering the positive effect that these vehicles can have on the environment," said County Executive Ike Leggett. "I'm especially proud of the fact that once again, Montgomery County is leading the way regionally when it comes to an environmental impact program."

"The new CNG refuse trucks meet the stringent 2010 heavy-duty diesel vehicle emission standards, producing far less smog forming compounds and particulate matter than the older diesel trash truck fleet," said Bob Hoyt, director of Montgomery County's Department of Environmental Protection. "Our new fleet of over 100 CNG powered collection trucks will go a long way to improve our air quality."