Royal Mail Switches to Renewable Diesel for HGVs

Royal Mail is taking steps to reduce emissions from its fleet of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) by transitioning some of them to a renewable diesel alternative called Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

The company has chosen its Sheffield mail center, Midlands Super Hub, and Manchester vehicle operating center as the first locations to adopt HVO, with four more sites set to follow. This decision is based on the significant volumes of goods transported by HGVs for major customers at these locations. The switch to HVO is expected to save a total of 2.1 million liters of diesel consumption this year.

This transition to HVO is part of Royal Mail’s Steps to Zero plan, which aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. The company has set a long-term goal of reducing its average emissions per parcel to 50gCO2e. With current emissions at 218gCO2e, Royal Mail is already considered the most environmentally friendly option for letters and parcels in the UK.

By adopting HVO, Royal Mail is not only addressing emissions from its fleet but also meeting the increasing demand from customers for emission reduction. The company plans to expand the use of HVO in its local and national distribution fleet network over the next few years, with the aim of reducing direct emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes of CO2e.

HVO is a fossil-free biofuel that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%, according to Certas Energy. It is a drop-in fuel, meaning it can be used without any modifications to the engine or fueling infrastructure. For the initial year of implementation, Certas Energy will support Royal Mail in the rollout of HVO.

Rob Fowler, Fleet Director at Royal Mail, emphasized that while the company has made progress in decarbonizing its operations with the introduction of 5,000 electric vehicles for final mile deliveries, addressing emissions from HGVs is a significant challenge. Electric and hydrogen alternatives are still in the developmental stage for HGVs, with limitations such as low vehicle ranges, high purchase prices, and nascent infrastructure. Hence, Royal Mail sees HVO as a viable low-carbon option for decarbonizing its HGV fleet while continuing to explore emerging technologies like electric and hydrogen HGVs.

Clive Betts MP for Sheffield South East expressed support for Royal Mail’s initiative and hopes it marks the beginning of the company’s journey towards reducing carbon emissions from its larger fleet and achieving net-zero emissions.

Certas Energy, which supplies HVO, commended Royal Mail for its energy transition efforts and stated that HVO is an effective transitional fuel that can significantly reduce emissions without compromising productivity. The company believes HVO will play a crucial role in helping businesses move towards net-zero emissions and hopes that Royal Mail’s example will inspire others in the industry to accelerate their own sustainability efforts.

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