Republic Services, a recycling and waste company that serves more than 200,000 households and 27,000 businesses in the St. Louis region, is investing nearly $25 million to enhance its fleet with 72 compressed natural gas collection vehicles.

The new CNG vehicles will replace older diesel models and provide a cleaner and quieter collection experience for residents and businesses in the St. Louis area. Natural gas produces 23% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel fuel, which means cleaner air for the St. Louis community, says the company. Vehicles powered by CNG also are nearly 90% quieter than similar diesel models.

With a fleet of 72 new CNG vehicles, Republic will operate one of the largest CNG fleets in the St. Louis area, along with AT&T and the St. Louis Airport Authority.

"While there is a significant upfront financial commitment involved in our switch to compressed natural gas, the long-term environmental and economic benefits merit the change," said Tim Trost, area president, Republic Services.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 80% to 90% of the natural gas used in the United States in recent years was domestically produced.

"Air pollution is a critical concern in the St. Louis area and reducing transportation emissions will have a positive impact on our region's air quality," said Kevin Herdler, executive director of St. Louis Regional Clean Cities.

Republic Services is planning to continue to build its alternative-fuel fleet and expects to operate nearly 80 CNG-fueled trucks in the St. Louis area by the end of 2012. The investment is driven by the company's continuous effort to incorporate practices into its operations that are both economically and environmentally sustainable.

On a nationwide basis, Republic in 2012 dedicated 68% of its new truck purchases to natural gas vehicles. At its current rate of conversion, Republic plans to have more than 3,100 trucks nationwide running on natural gas and other alternative fuels by the end of 2015.