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Getting cooler with Sainsbury’s

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Supermarket Sainsbury’s is running part of its fleet on biomethane, while also trialling a new natural refrigeration technology on its trucks to reduce emissions

Last year, major supermarket retailer J Sainsbury began to operate 51 vehicles in its distribution fleet using a hybrid fuel made of traditional diesel and biomethane.

It began the process in 2008 with one vehicle making daily food deliveries using a biomethane lorry with the fuel coming from landfill gas.

By 2009, its trial using what it calls Dual-Fuel was extended to five vehicles and in May last year, this was extended to 51 vehicles.

These trucks are based at Sainsbury’s Emerald Park Distribution Centre in Bristol and are serving stores and depots in Wales and South West.

A dedicated on site refuelling station has also been put in place to enhance fuelling efficiency and allow a large number of Dual-Fuel vehicles to enter Sainsbury’s fleet over time.

As a result of this, Sainsbury’s expects its Dual-Fuel fleet to reduce its CO2 emissions by 2,090 tonnes per year as part of a target of reducing emissions in its logistics fleet by 35 per cent by 2020.

“We set ourselves a very stretching target for carbon reduction in our transport fleet so we are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment while improving efficiencies,” says Sainsbury’s head of transport operations Nick Davies.

“Our trial of Dual-Fuel was very successful and gave us the confidence to extend the fleet to become one of the largest in the country.

“Our early adoption of this technology is helping to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and future proof our fuel supply, which are both fundamental to the long-term sustainability of our business.”

“We have already achieved a number of efficiencies across our transport operations, including cutting almost 8 million kilometres in three years, and our Dual-Fuel fleet will also play a key role in delivering our no waste to landfill policy.

“As well as delivering to our stores, the fleet also backhauls any food waste and recyclable materials to be sorted and put to positive use.”

Now the company is trialling the world’s first naturally refrigerated trailer to transport chilled and frozen goods.

The CO2 refrigerated unit trial is part of the retailer’s review of its carbon footprint reduction work, as it seeks to reduce emissions from refrigeration both in store and in its transport logistics.

It converted its refrigerated depots from harmful hydroflurocarbons (HFC) in 2011 and is on track to switch 250 stores to CO2 refrigerant by 2014.

“The new carbon dioxide technology has much less of an impact in climate change and we hope it will play a big part in helping us reduce our carbon emissions,” says Nick Davies.

“We will be monitoring its performance closely and if successful, in line with our replacement plan, it could help us save over 70,000 tonnes of CO2 compared to the current refrigerated trailer fleet.”

Sainsbury’s has been working with Carrier Transicold on the two-year trial of the new HFC-free cooling technology for road transport.

It uses a modified version of Carrier Transicold’s NaturaLINE refrigeration system, which was originally designed for deep sea containers. It was tested in the rigorous open seas in a trial that was completed in 2012.

“This is the very first time that our NaturaLINE system has been mounted to a box trailer anywhere in the world,” says Carrier Transicold president David Appel.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to advance Carrier’s natural leadership in environmental technologies, by working closely with Sainsbury’s, one of our largest customers in Europe, to test how the concept performs on the road.

“It’s also much better news for the environment because refrigerant CO2 is non-ozone depleting and has a global warming potential of one.”

The global warming potential is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere over 20, 100 or 500 years. It is expressed as a factor of carbon dioxide, as this gas is used as the baseline measure. As an example, the 20-year GWP of methane is 72.


Project Facts

Company: Sainsbury’s and Carrier Transicold

Details: Sainsbury’s had introduced 51 vehicles running on biomethane and diesel hybrid fuel, while it has also been working with Carrier Transicold on introducing a new CO2 based refrigerant on one of its vehicles as a trial.

Sainsbury’s achievements:

It has achieved a 6 per cent absolute reduction in energy related carbon, with a 26 per cent reduction in CO2.

Its logistics fleet currently travels 8 million less kilometres than three years ago despite growing its business due to efficiency measures.

The retailer has also reduced operational water consumption across its entire estate by 50 per cent relative.

Under its 20x20 Sustainability Plan, by 2020 the supermarket plans to source raw materials sustainably, reduce operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent absolute and 65 per cent relative compared with 2005, reduce its packaging by half compared to 2005, and by 2020 put all waste to positive use.


Category: Retail
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