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Feature Article

One person’s waste is another’s treasure

Northland Waste has been turning trash to treasure for the past 20 years, through its professional waste and recycling collection services. The business has grown its operations considerably in that time, expanding into the Auckland region and from Whanganui to Wellington. With more than 200 trucks at work across its three business units, it recently invested in three 58T HMPV-permitted Mercedes-Benz Arocs to take its fleet capabilities to the next level. 

A new contract with Auckland Council led the company – which operates as Econowaste in that region – to approach Keith Andrews for supply of two 580hp and one 630hp 8x4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs to fulfill its new remit.  

The contract covers domestic curbside refuse collection in three of Auckland Council’s seven residential zones. To add some context, the Council’s latest report states that more than 1.6 million tonnes of waste are sent to landfill every year in Auckland – that’s more than a tonne per person. 

It's a big job – and Econowaste has recruited some big trucks to do it. 

“We needed room to fit a 50m3 bin on the truck and enough power to pull an 80m3 bin on a five-axle trailer,” says National Fleet Manager Ken Frazer. 

“We found that Mercedes-Benz was best equipped to meet those needs.” 

Northland Waste’s Mercedes-Benz Arocs

Heavy duty Mercedes-Benz 

All three of these heavy-duty trucks are 58T HMPV permitted and cart a 35T payload of 130m3 of rubbish per trip, equipped with Transfleet walking floor trailers. 

“Landfills rarely have flat, smooth ground for the trucks to park on, and we don’t want to be lifting 35T on unstable land, as it could cause the tipper to become unbalanced – so, we use walking floor trailers for safety reasons,” explains Ken. 

The two 580hp models work double shifts, 24 hours a day, five days a week, while the 630hp unit puts in ten-hour shifts, five and a half days a week.  

All three transport refuse from Auckland Council’s Waitakere Refuse and Recycling Transfer Station, or Econowaste’s Silverdale Transfer Station, to Redvale Landfill. At night, the trucks move domestic curbside recycling from Econowaste’s yard in Silverdale to Visy Recycling in Onehunga. 

The double shifted units will cover around 100,000km per year, while the other will cover around 60,000km. 

Maximising payload per trip increases efficiency and reduces fuel use – key considerations both for Econowaste and Auckland Council. 

“Shifting a 35T payload means less trips back and forth, which cuts down on emissions and results in a more economic operation. That’s important for us and, in terms of environmental impact, a requirement of the Council,” explains Ken. 

The Mercedes-Benz Arocs shifts a 35T payload

Plenty of power 

Each Arocs is fitted with Daimler’s highly efficient, Euro 6-rated OM473 15.6L engine, which works in tandem with the Mercedes-Benz PowerShift AMT for smooth, economical performance.  

“We see these units as a good investment for our business and for our drivers,” says Ken. “They’re brand new trucks, fitted out with the best features and our drivers have responded really well to them. The power and transmission are beautifully matched, and we’ve heard nothing but positive feedback on that front.” 

Some of those other features include MirrorCam, which automatically focuses on the rear of the trailer and follows it as it turns. Ken says the technology is “fantastic” and lets drivers monitor all sides of the truck and trailer at all times – a crucial feature to have when working on a busy site. 

“At Silverdale, the trucks going to recycling come in up a hill, then go off to the side and back down through a 95 degree turn into a shed on their blindside – and they do it in one turn. In Onehunga, the drivers get extremely close to a wall to back the trailer into a loading bay, which is incredibly impressive,” says Ken. 

The cab of a Mercedes-Benz Arocs

Safety in spades 

Alongside MirrorCam, Arocs includes a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features to better protect drivers and other road users. 

“Mercedes-Benz has impressed me with the safety features on offer, from little things like auto high-beam and an external light check function through to Active Brake Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control on our 580hp models” says Ken. 

“Being strong on safety is another area that helps us win contracts and gives us peace of mind in terms of staff wellbeing.” 

Community focus 

Northland Waste, Econowaste – and Low Cost Bins in the lower North Island – is collectively a people and community-focused business. 

It regularly sponsors events such as the Kerikeri Half Marathon and runs several repurposing initiatives, including a scheme to reduce wood waste and give it another life as a source of renewable energy. 

It also donated time and energy to help clean up Auckland after the floods in January 2023. 

“We pulled in trucks from around the country to help the clean-up,” says Ken. “It really was a mess and there was rubbish everywhere. We also gave out Jumbo Bags for free to residents to help them get their lives back on track.” 

The Arocs handles 35T of rubbish per trip

Like Keith Andrews, Northland Waste grew from its roots in Whangarei to become a major player across the North Island. With Daimler Trucks sales, parts and service dealerships in all three of the waste collector’s main areas of operation, Keith Andrews is well placed to assist the company in its future growth. 

The three Econowaste Arocs visit Keith Andrews Auckland for scheduled services and Ken is impressed with the 80,000km oil change intervals on the Mercedes-Benz trucks. 

“Things like changing engine oil can add a huge bill to the total running cost – especially when some trucks hold up to 50L of oil – so, to not have to change it for 80,000km is a big cost saving,” he says. 

With the 8x4 Arocs ticking a number of boxes that protect the business’ bottom line, alongside high safety spec and reduced emissions, the three new units are proving to be a shrewd investment in support of further growth and the ability for fulfill its council contracts.