Safeway, the largest grocery retailer in the United States
has converted its entire fleet of more than 1,000 trucks
to run on biodiesel fuel, a fuel additive derived from animal fats
or plant oil, typically soybeans.
FOOD FUELS FOOD TRUCKS
Last year, U.K.-based Tesco, one of the largest retailers in Europe,
converted its 2,000 trucks in the United Kingdom
to run on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel.
Fill 'er up ... with biodiesel
by John Johnson, Enroute, April 2008 Issue
Biofuels can be expensive, and the supply network is still under construction. But that's not stopping some of the largest fleet operators in the country from making the switch. If you shop at one of the nearly 1,200 Safeway grocery stores across the United States, you can do so with a clear eco-conscience. The products on Safeway's store shelves carry a smaller carbon footprint today than they did just a year ago. It's not because Safeway has opted to sell only locally grown products, the latest feel-good way to reduce a grocery operation's carbon footprint. Instead, the chain has converted its entire fleet of more than 1,000 trucks to run on biodiesel fuel.
The Pleasanton, Calif.-based grocer is one of the largest retailers in the United States to commit its entire fleet to biodiesel, a fuel additive derived from animal fats or plant oil, typically soybeans. At a January news conference in Washington, D.C., Safeway officials said the move was part of the company's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative, a program designed to manage the chain's carbon footprint, address climate change, and reduce air pollution.
Safeway is not alone in its interest in alternative fuels. Retail giant Wal-Mart is reportedly studying the benefits of biofuels. Last year, U.K.-based Tesco, one of the largest retailers in Europe, converted its 2,000 trucks in the United Kingdom to run on a 50-50 blend of biodiesel. The company is now studying the use of biofuels for its much smaller U.S. fleet, which supports the 43 stores Tesco recently opened on the West Coast.
As companies scramble to go green and decrease their carbon footprints, the use of alternative fuels is growing, although there are still pricing and availability issues to be resolved. At the fifth annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo held in February, industry leaders predicted that the amount of biodiesel used in the United States would grow to a billion gallons a year over the next few years. By way of comparison, the National Biodiesel Board estimates that the industry produced 450 million gallons of biodiesel fuel in 2007.
Like most biofuel users in this country, Safeway will be running its fleet not on pure biodiesel, but on B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. Unlike pure biodiesel, B20 can be used in nearly all diesel equipment and generally requires no engine modifications, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Web site. Though B20 contains 1 to 2 percent less energy per gallon than petroleum diesel, it has only a negligible effect on engine performance or fuel economy. But it can have a big impact on air quality. Safeway's shift to biodiesel from conventional diesel fuel will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75 million pounds annually, according to company spokeswoman Teena Massingill. That's the equivalent of taking nearly 7,500 passenger vehicles off the road each year. Safeway expects to achieve those environmental benefits without any sacrifice in efficiency, Massingill adds. "The switch to biofuel has a positive impact on the environment, we are drastically reducing our carbon emissions, and it doesn't affect our overall fleet efficiency or its ability to deliver our products," she says.
But there is an added cost. The company will pay a few pennies more per gallon for the biodiesel mixture, says Greg Ten Eyck, a Safeway spokesman. At the Washington news conference, Safeway officials said that fleet vehicles operating in the Washington (D.C.), Baltimore, and Philadelphia region use about 975,000 gallons of fuel per year. At that rate of consumption, the additional expenditure on biodiesel would come to about $30,000 a year (at three additional cents per gallon) for that portion of the company's fleet. Though Safeway seems unfazed by the additional expense, it may be more the exception than the rule. Marc E. Althen, senior vice president of administration and facilities at Penske Truck Leasing, says many of his company's customers are hesitant to pursue biodiesel because it adds to fuel costs. Although some states provide tax incentives (the most generous program is offered by Illinois), those breaks are not universally available. "If you don't have an incentive from state or local authorities, it just won't pay for itself," Althen says. "We're seeing a few fleets exploring biodiesel, but the price point is such that they aren't embracing it as you might think."
Another stumbling block has been the establishment of a supply network. "I think some companies are dabbling with it, mainly in the private-fleet sector and mainly in warmer temperatures," says Chris Caplice, executive director of the Center for Transportation and Logistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I don't see a huge rush to it because the distribution system isn't that great." Two years ago, Caplice headed up a project to study what a biodiesel supply chain — as opposed to the petrochemical supply chain — would look like. While most petrochemicals are refined in Houston, biodiesel refineries need to be close to the original source. "Everything would have to be close to the farm for biodiesel because it's the bulk movement from the field to the first processor that has the most cost," he says.
But neither cost nor supply hassles have deterred Safeway, which has also outfitted all 300 of its refueling stations to run on wind-powered energy. "Biodiesel is slightly more expensive, but it's certainly a manageable expense," says Massingill. "So it still makes sense for us as a company to make the switch." She adds that for Safeway, the goodwill created by the initiative easily outweighs the slightly higher costs. "We're having a positive impact on the environment in the communities we operate in, and this is something that our consumers and neighbors are concerned about. We're trying to be a good corporate citizen, and people want to do business with a company that cares about the people it serves."
That's not to say that there isn't money to be made by greening transportation fleets. For evidence, look no further than Wal-Mart. The mega-retailer expects to reap savings of more than $300 million a year through an initiative to double the efficiency of its 7,000 fleet vehicles by 2015, according to data posted on its Web site. To reach that goal, Wal-Mart is working with truck manufacturers to develop diesel hybrid and aerodynamic trucks. The retailer began purchasing hybrids in 2003. It currently operates 300 and has plans to add 150 to its fleet each year. In addition, Wal-Mart took delivery of four natural gasfueled Peterbilt 386 trucks at its Apple Valley, Calif., distribution center in January. The trucks are expected to help Wal-Mart reduce its fleet vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by between 30 and 50 percent over their diesel equivalents. The retail giant is also installing auxiliary power units (APUs) — small efficient diesel engines — on all of its trucks that make overnight trips. Drivers can turn off the truck engines and rely on APUs to heat or cool the cab while on breaks and during overnight stops. Wal-Mart says that in a single year, the change should eliminate about 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, reduce consumption by 10 million gallons of diesel fuel, and save the company $25 million. Wal-Mart estimates that for every one mile-per-gallon gain in fuel efficiency, it can save over $50 million per year. That type of forward thinking has earned Wal-Mart accolades from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: In both 2006 and 2007, the retailer received Environmental Excellence Awards from the EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership for its efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.
Fill 'er up ... with biodiesel. Enroute, April 2008 Issue
TRAFFICKERS IN FOOD (We have been subjected to decades of economic manipulation by a group of conglomerates that profit at the expense of our bellies)
GATES PLANTING STERILE SEEDS (A grant of 150 million dollars was provided to Uganda to facilitate the propagation of genetically modified seeds)
AFRICA AGRO-FUELED FAMINE ("A full car tank of ethanol uses the same amount of grain that can feed a person for a year.")
BIO-FUEL CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY (The world's food supplies are rapidly dwindling due to a trend away from farming food crops to growing bio-fuels)
BIO-FUEL WAR ON FOOD (Using food to produce bio-fuel "might further strain the already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world.")
GM FOOD = GONE MAD (Genetically modified crops contaminate the countryside for up to 15 years after they have been harvested)
FARMS FEELING FOOD FIGHT (UK floods damage feed and food crops)
FOOD AS FUEL STARVES HUNGRY (The production of cassava-based ethanol is a grave threat to the food security of over 200 million of Africa's poorest people)
ZAMBIA FARMERS FOR FOOD ("We have seen nothing but trouble since our economy was liberalized under the structural adjustment policies demanded by the World Bank")
FOOD TO CRY OVER ("American consumer culture is teeming with neon-colored, overprocessed, demon-spawn products")
POTATOES PLOUGHED UNDER (Potato farmers across North America are destroying millions of tonnes of fresh potatoes this winter...The UN WFP does not consider potatoes suitable for foreign food aid)
WATER BLOWS WIND OUTA WATER ("Just remember that ram - He kept butting that dam...Oops there goes a billion kilowatt damn)
WHERE'S THE BEEF GONNA GO? (USA farmers don't want Canadian beef)
WINDMILLS ARE GREEN STALINISM (Wind power is so inefficient that it scarcely replaces conventional sources of energy at all...The only beneficiaries have been the super-rich who have invested in wind farms because of the huge tax breaks - and the politicians in the industry's pocket)
ENGINEERED FAMINE IN ZIMBABWE (Mugabe raided the farms that were feeding the nation)
PIG TOYS TALE ANTI-EUROPE (EU mandating toys for pigs - farmers who fail to follow the new regulations could be fined up to £2,500 fine )
TAKE NOT OUR DAILY BREAD ("Give us this day our daily bread")
PUBLIC PRIVATE LAND GRABS (The British government is helping corporations seize not only the land from the poor, but also the water, utilities, mines, schools, health services and anything else they might find profitable)
MY JOURNEY THROUGH FAMINE STRICKEN RUSSIA, 1933 (Millions of people have died of starvation. They are still dying like flies today. Dying in a land which was formerly one of the richest of all the peasant states, after what has been officially described as the biggest wheat crop for fifty years)
SOVIET UNION FAMINE EXPOSURE, 1930-1933
MAD COW TERROR (So far more than two dozen countries have banned American beef imports, bringing the $3.2 billion U.S. beef export business to a halt)
ANTI-NATURE IS ANTI-GOD (Choose to eat from Nature's table, not the table of the genetic engineers)
THE WATER BARONS (The Bluebeards of the 21st century, now in control of our water, are the pirates of the present day)
1980 USA GRAIN EMBARGO (When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Canada's Prime Minister refused to stop shipments of our wheat to the USSR)
WORLD FOOD BANK (The Elite plan to control the land and production of food at every level of the process. The natural crop seed varieties are being systematically destroyed and replaced by genetically-engineered seeds)
FEEDLOTS INSTEAD OF FARMS (The government's actions and inactions in response to the food needs of starving animals is proof they are working toward the destruction of family farms and their replacement with factory farms)
LOAD 'EM UP, MOVE 'EM OUT, RAWHIDE (sing along to "Keep them doggies movin', rawhide!" on You Tube)
LENIN BEHIND ENVIRONMENTALISTS ("Under the guise of Greens we shall go forward and hang the kulaks, priests, and landowners. Bounty: 100,000 rubles for each man hanged”)
FACTORY FARMING COVER-UP (The government is not working in the best interests of Canadians who fund it but instead in the interests of the massive agri-businesses which ALSO fund it)
PREVENTIVE KILLING (14 pure, healthy animals from a herd of 42 Water Buffalo were ordered by federal inspectors to be slaughtered and their brains checked by scientists as part of Canada's "zero-tolerance" policy on mad cow disease)
WINDMILLS IN ANIMAL FARM (Benjamin refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work)
GULLIVER ON GM AGRICULTURE (...a project for extracting sun-beams out of cucumbers, ...condensing air into a dry trangible substance, ...to prevent the growth of wool upon young lambs)
CLIMATE-CHANGE EVIL-DOERS and INCONVENIENT TRUTH A LIE and CLIMATE-CHANGE CARBON RACKET and CLIMATE-CHANGE CORRUPT SCIENCE and KYOTO = KILL YOUR TOMORROWS
9.Keeping Masses Down and 15.Life in Oceania and 14.Scientific Experimentation
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~