In 2010, Coca-Cola Enterprises became the first company in the logistics sector to trial a biomethane heavy goods truck in Great Britain. We caught up with Darren O’Donnell, the company’s logistics asset manager, to find out what’s been happening since then.
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) is one of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottlers, serving 170 million customers across seven countries and one principality in Western Europe. In 2011, the company launched its sustainability plan, ‘Deliver for Today, Inspire for Tomorrow’, setting out ambitious targets that it aims to achieve by 2020.
“As part of our sustainability plan, we’ve committed to reduce the carbon footprint of the drink in your hand by a third by 2020 compared to what it was in 2007,” says Darren. “Transporting our products is one of the biggest sources of emissions for our business, so it’s an important area to focus on.”
“Back when we were first investigating alternative fuels for our vehicles, biomethane came out as the clear winner,” Darren continues. “As well as reducing carbon emissions by about 60% compared to regular diesel we felt it was an option that could be realised fairly quickly.”
Having opted for biomethane, the company launched a pilot truck in May 2010 running on fuel derived from household waste at a local landfill site. “We ran one biogas truck alongside a standard diesel vehicle over the same routes – in London, Reading and rural Essex”, Darren explains.
“We found that the reliability of the truck was just the same and the drivers actually preferred it as they found it more powerful, smoother and quieter. And tests also showed that using the biogas truck reduced levels of nitric oxide, improving air quality.”
Expanding the fleet
Following the successful pilot, CCE decided to invest in 14 biogas trucks, which arrived in March and April of 2011. “Throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games we used the trucks to transport products from our warehouse in East London to the Olympic Park.
"Our drivers only needed to refuel them once a day, just as they would with diesel trucks, and the vehicles performed really well. We only had one breakdown over the course of the Games, which wasn’t anything to do with the fuel it was running on.
“The vehicles are now part of our regular fleet and we expect them to save 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year as well as 1590kgs of nitric oxide – a reduction of 86%.”
The biogas trucks are clearly proving a hit - so much so that they have won CCE two awards: the Initiative of the Year accolade at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Awards and, in October last year, a Green Fleet Award in the ‘Private Sector’ category.
“At the moment we’re not sure where we’ll go from here”, says Darren, “but we’re definitely keen to start using biomethane in other parts of the business – perhaps for the forklift trucks we use in our warehouses. We’re confident that investing in alternative fuels and technologies like this will help us to achieve our 2020 goals.”