Rising diesel costs, last year, forced Waste Management Inc. WM +0.91%to charge customers an extra $169 million, just to keep its garbage trucks fueled. This year, the nation's biggest trash hauler has a new defensive strategy: it is buying trucks that will run on cheaper natural gas.
In fact, the company says 80% of the trucks it purchases during the next five years will be fueled by natural gas. Though the vehicles cost about $30,000 more than conventional diesel models, each will save $27,000-a-year or more in fuel, says Eric Woods, head of fleet logistics for Waste Management. By 2017, the company expects to burn more natural gas than diesel.