In 2003, the Clean Roads to Clean Air Program (CRCA) was initiated by Transportation Services’ Operational Planning and Policy Unit and Toronto Environment Office’ Air Quality Improvements Branch.

Through a number of air quality studies and tests, a standard process, along with efficiency criteria were developed and used to evaluate various street sweeper technologies. Specifically, the technologies were evaluated on their efficiency in removing fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5 – both considered toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act) from roads, the concentration levels of fine particulate matter entrained into the air while sweeping, and their ability to operate year-round effectively, including during winter periods, and under various sweeping conditions typically encountered in Toronto.

The CRCA Program defined a process that made it possible to obtain quantitative results of a street sweeper’s operational and PM efficiency and provided the justification for the City to proceed with the acquisition of 50 new regenerative-air street sweepers in 2007 and 2008. These new sweepers are capable of removing a significant amount of fine particulate matter from Toronto’s paved roads year-round.

Testing protocols were developed, along with efficiency criteria to evaluate the operational and particulate matter removal efficiency of various street sweeper technologies. The evaluation process has provided a framework for continuous development of new operational practices and procedures, ensuring that the City’s street sweeping service is delivered in a safe, environmentally sustainable, efficient and effective manner.

The new sweepers will contribute to a reduction in airborne fine particulate matter, at street level by at least 21%. Fine particulate matter is one of the two most significant “criteria air contaminants” in Toronto. An improvement in air quality will be beneficial to the general health of City’s residents, workers and visitors, and will significantly reduce the number of cases of acute and chronic exposure to fine particulates. An additional benefit of removing toxic loads from the streets is that most of the particulate matter that was washed down into catch-basins and the storm sewer system will be significantly reduced. This will result in improved stormwater quality and a reduction in the cost of stormwater treatment. Furthermore, the replacement of the less efficient and aging fleet of mechanical street sweepers with operational and PM10 and PM2.5 efficient street sweeper will reduce maintenance costs and improve the level of street sweeping service across the City.

A number of divisions were consulted throughout the process including Fleet Services, Public Health Services, Legal Services, Toronto Water and the Purchasing and Material Management Division.

The City of Toronto, in collaboration with the City of Hamilton developed testing protocols, along with efficiency criteria, that can be used to evaluate the operational performance and removal entrainment efficiencies for particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) of various street sweeper technologies.

The City of Toronto has now released the:

  1. PM10and PM5 Street Sweeper Efficiency Test Protocol 
  2. Operational On-Street Test Protocol

…for use and would like to let the sweeper industry and community at large know that third-party testing and verification is now available through the following organizations: Canadian Environmental Technology Verification Canada (Canadian ETV) and Program and Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

Through the use of the testing protocols, administered through a third-party, various street sweeper technologies can be evaluated for their PM removal and entrainment efficiencies (air quality performance) and operational performance using a quantifiable rather than a qualitative method (visual and non-standard observations), which was the practice in the past. Once testing has been completed, under Canadian ETV, separate Verification Certificates for PM10 and PM2.5 efficient and operational performance based on the above testing protocols can be obtained.

GLOBE Performance Solutions (GPS) is the independent verification organization which manages and delivers Canadian ETV under a license agreement with Environment Canada. GPS offers a reliable assessment process for verifying the environmental performance claims associated with projects and programs, as well as technologies and technological processes. PAMI is an independent testing agency with experience and credentials in street sweeping testing. The ETV Fact Sheet provides a brief summary of the GPS organization and Canadian ETV, along with an overview of our GPS Consortium members, including the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

The Background Information on Verification document provides details on the Canadian ETV verification process that verifies the vendor’s environmental and operational performance claims. In order to determine overall performance of a street sweeper, both the PM10 and PM2.5 and operational performance should be assessed. This will help identify the best performing street sweeper most suitably to address the sweeping needs of a municipality.

A video that illustrates the value of the new ISO 14034 Environmental management – Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) using test protocols developed by the City of Toronto is available.

City Council in July 2005 adopted the report entitled ‘PM10 and PM2.5 Efficient Street Sweepers for the City of Toronto (All Wards)’ which directed staff to report back on the effectiveness of the above new regenerative-air street sweepers. More recently, the Auditor General requested a review of various equipment maintenance practices made the following recommendation to review the City’s street sweeping performance measurement processes and where applicable develop appropriate measures. The process should measure the ongoing effectiveness of the City’s street sweeping services in the area of air quality, tonnage of debris collected and equipment downtime information.

The objective of the Study was to assess the effectiveness of regenerative-air street sweepers in improving the ambient air quality by reducing the concentration levels of PM10 and PM2.5 on City streets. The results of the Study can be used as a basis to modify service levels (frequency of sweeping), setting equipment and staff requirements and identifying operating and capital budget impacts. This Study was the monitoring component of the Clean Roads Clean Air (CRCA) Program that was initiated back in 2003.

The results of the Study implemented in the real world environment show that the regenerative-air street sweeper reduce airborne fine particulate matter, at street level, by at least 27 per cent.

Transportation Services was awarded the 2017 Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Environmental Achievement Award for its Clean Roads to Clean Air Program. TAC’s Environmental Achievement Award recognizes exemplary contributions by a TAC organization or individual member in the environmental area with respect to providing transportation services.  The CRCA Program meets the City’s mandate to manage operations in a sustainable and efficient manner and to consider the impacts to human health and the environment.  The Program achieved this through established environmental and operational criteria and testing protocols for street sweepers.