Electric mowers, blowers, trimmers and edgers have essentially very little greenhouse gas emissions when they run.But does that make them better for the environment? The answer isn’t as easy as you may think.
The City of Longmont would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their parks fleet by 90 percent if they were able to switch all their diesel equipment to electric, according to Francie Jaffe, Water Conservation and Sustainability specialist with the city. And the city is working toward that with a new mandate to replace all gas-powered equipment with electric.
But with electric small engines, the problem isn’t running them. It’s getting them to run. Electricity still (for the most part) has to come from power plants. And, while more and more of our electricity is coming from solar, wind and nuclear, the problem sources still provide the most power: Coal and natural gas.
The EPA’s Power Profiler site (https://www.epa.gov/egrid/power-profiler#/) can tell you where your power comes from just by entering your zip code. In Colorado, about 70 percent of our power comes from non-renewable sources.
Gasoline-powered equipment also has the emissions from gasoline production on top of the emissions from use, said Sara Goodwin, communications director of the Regional Air Quality Council.
Even with that emissions from electric productions, electric mowers still reduce overall emissions as calculated for their 2020 Mow Down Pollution program, Goodwin said.
“For each average gasoline-powered lawn mower replaced by the Mow Down Pollution program, we are avoiding 2 pounds of volatile organic compounds, 26 lbs. of carbon monoxide and 490 pounds of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into our air,” she said.
The other environmental concern is the batteries. When lithium-ion batteries finally die, they must be taken to a special facility to be disposed of. This means the battery is frozen, crushed and tossed in, yes, a landfill.
Goodwin pointed out that her organization is also working with the industry for buy-back programs, where customers could bring in their old batteries for disposal and get a discount on new ones. Until then, she said, Lithium-ion batteries can also be disposed of properly at these facilities:https://cdphe.colorado.gov/household-hazardous-waste-collection-programs.