Biffa makes major investment with 43 new Mercedes-Benz Econics

Waste management and recycling firm Biffa has bought 43 new Mercedes-Benz Econic trucks – including its first skiploaders and hookloaders based on the low-entry chassis – which are now being trialled in London.

The purchase comes after the company bought 51 Econics in 2017-18. Econics now make up a large proportion of the refuse collection trucks in Biffa’s Industrial & Commercial Division’s 1,500-strong fleet.

Most of the trucks are 6×2 Econic 2630L variants with rear-steer axles and Dennis Eagle compactor bodies, apart from three 18-tonne Econic 1827L skiploaders and a pair of 32-tonne 3235L ENA hookloaders, which are fitted with bodywork by Boughton Engineering. As ENA variants, the eight-wheelers have single front steer axles, double-drive bogies, and rear-steer axles, a configuration that ensures a high degree of manoeuvrability.

All trucks were supplied by South Wales-based dealer Euro Commercials, which oversaw the bodybuilding process for Biffa.

Biffa’s latest Econics are powered by in-line six-cylinder engines. The RCVs produce 220kW (299hp), while the skiploaders employ 200kW (272hp) and the hookloaders 260kW (354hp) versions of the same, advanced 7.7-litre powerplant.

While the RCVs drive through fully automatic six-speed Allison gearboxes, the skiploaders and hookloaders are equipped with 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 transmissions.

“The Econic is our preferred low-entry RCV chassis,” said Biffa Fleet Project Engineer Colin Bagnall. “It is reliable and cost-effective in operation, while our crews appreciate its comfortable, air-conditioned, walk-through cab.”

Biffa is based in High Wycombe but has 195 other sites across the UK and collects 4.1 million bins every week. “We used to buy 6×4 variants,” explained Bagnall. “However, to reflect the fact that a much higher proportion of the trade waste we collect is now recycled at our own transfer facilities rather than being sent to landfill, we switched about three years ago from double-drive to 6×2 rear-steer chassis.”

Bagnall added that the introduction of the Econic-based skiploaders and hookloaders were a new departure for Biffa, underlining the company’s commitment to safe, compliant operation in urban areas.

“We’ll be monitoring their performance closely but the initial feedback from drivers has been entirely positive. They particularly appreciate the excellent visibility which the Econic offers.”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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