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The British John Lewis Partnership has announced that it is building a dedicated biomethane gas filling station to enable its largest heavy goods vehicles to use a low-carbon alternative to diesel. This means that Waitrose lorries will run on biomethane made from food waste and food processing waste materials

In March 2019, the employee-owned business pledged to be net-zero carbon across its entire operations by 2050 at the latest and its 600 heavy goods vehicles to be switched to low-carbon biomethane by 2028. Since last year, the Partnership has reduced its total operational carbon emissions by 6.6%2 and emissions from transport have fallen by 6.9%. 

The new biomethane gas filling station will be built in conjunction with Air Liquide and will open at the Partnership’s head office in Bracknell in December 2020, making it the business’s first on-site gas filling station. It will facilitate the conversion of the Bracknell Waitrose fleet to biomethane and complement gas filling stations already in use near to John Lewis and Waitrose regional distribution centres in Leyland, Lancashire, and in Northampton. 

Serving approximately 120 Waitrose heavy goods trucks, the vehicles will run on biomethane made from food waste and food processing waste materials rather than diesel. This will reduce CO2 emissions by 80%, with each truck saving over 100 tonnes of CO2 every year. These gas trucks are also quieter, decreasing noise pollution, which is especially important for urban deliveries. Over the next seven years, the Bracknell site alone will save over 70,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the carbon footprint produced by over 13,000 UK households3

Since 2015, 85 of the Partnership’s heavy diesel vehicles have already been replaced with biomethane trucks, and a further 143 will be purchased and in operation by the end of 2020, making this the largest order of biomethane trucks in the UK.

To reduce carbon emissions across its transport network further, the Partnership’s ambition is to eliminate fossil fuels from its commercial vehicle and car fleet by 2030. This radical initiative could see 1,750 electric vans and light trucks introduced and approximately 750 refrigerated trailers converted from diesel to electric drive. In addition, the Partnership’s 1,300 strong car fleet would become 100% electric and any remaining vehicles that could not be converted to biomethane or electric will use hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) biodiesel.

Photo: Oast House Archive/ Wikimedia Commons

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