First Mile photoAward-winning recycling specialist First Mile has assigned a 7.5-tonne Fuso Canter to its new, low-cost, food waste collection service.

Chosen for its market-leading payload and a compact ‘footprint’ that makes it ideally suited to urban operation, the truck is fitted with a high-sided tipping body and side-mounted bin lift, and is now serving offices, retailers and leisure businesses in central London.

The Canter 7C15 arrived via Heathrow Mercedes-Benz dealer Rygor Commercials – the German manufacturer’s UK network is additionally responsible for sales and support of the popular Japanese light truck range.

Rygor has also just supplied First Mile with its latest six Mercedes-Benz Sprinters. All are 5.0-tonne 513CDI chassis cabs, with the sole exception of a 3.5-tonne 313CDI panel van. Used to collect dry recyclables, the larger vehicles have cage bodies by R&G Engineering, of Darlington, which also built the Canter’s double-skinned tipper.

First Mile has been won over by the quality of Rygor Commercials’ after sales back-up, as well as the reliability and ‘fitness for purpose’ of the vehicles it supplies. The operator is now running 15 Sprinters and is intent on replacing its remaining 15 cage-bodied chassis cabs with new Mercedes-Benz vehicles as soon as possible.

First Mile was recently voted Recycling Business of the Year in the prestigious Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management, organised by letsrecycle.com; it was just the latest in a series of accolades to have been won by the fast-growing company.

The company’s first Canter has a 150hp Euro 5 engine and came equipped as standard with the new DUONIC dual-clutch automatic transmission. Thanks to its lightweight but rugged chassis, it offers an impressive, 2780kg payload.

The vehicle was purchased with support from WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which recently awarded seven waste collection contractors funding to stimulate growth in food waste collections from businesses. The funding will enable a further 26,000 tonnes of food waste to be diverted from landfill by 2014.

“Other 7.5-tonners are too big to operate efficiently in the centre of London, and don’t have anything like the same carrying capacity either, or the easy cab access of the Canter,” explained Chief Executive Bruce Bratley. “We’re very excited about the prospects for our new food recycling service, which represents another important step towards our zero waste vision.”

First Mile was launched in 2003 and has relied from its earliest days on 3.5-tonne chassis by another manufacturer to collect dry recyclables. “But as we took on more customers and the rounds expanded, we found they were no longer big enough,” continued Mr Bratley.

“The 5.0-tonne Sprinter, by contrast, is the optimum size for our operation – it gives us more capacity but still drives like a 3.5-tonner. We have also embraced the fact that at this weight the Sprinter requires a tachograph, and as a result our drivers are becoming more professional and better qualified.”

He added: “Rygor’s level of service has been instrumental too, in convincing us to change chassis supplier. Like First Mile, it operates on a 24/7 basis and is very responsive – its technicians have been out to us and addressed a couple of minor issues quickly and efficiently, and the dealer clearly appreciates that if a vehicle is parked up instead of out working then it’s costing us money.”

First Mile now provides dry recycling services to more than 10,000 businesses in London and Birmingham. Customers are not required to sign contracts but simply purchase pre-paid sacks, which are then collected at times to suit them. First Mile recycles 70 per cent of material, with none being sent to landfill.

Its new food recycling initiative, meanwhile, involves the use of strong, biodegradable sacks, caddies in three sizes, and 120-litre wheelie bins, and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions in the capital by 579 tonnes over the next couple of years.

For more information: www.thefirstmile.co.uk