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Sainsbury's – Food deliveries made by lorry running on rubbish


Sainsbury's will be the first supermarket to make its daily food deliveries to its new environmental store using a lorry which is powered by fuel produced from waste.

The lorry will run on methane gas, which is produced from rotting rubbish in landfill. The gas is captured from landfill and purified, and the bio-methane produced is then used to power the truck.

How the issue was tackled

Sainsbury's rubbish lorryMethane gas results from organic or biodegradable material such as waste food, garden waste, paper and newspapers which rots in the absence of air in landfill sites. Some landfill sites burn the gas off, but the energy locked up in the gas is wasted. Instead, by capturing the gas, cleaning it and compressing it, it can now be used to power heavy goods vehicles.

Benefits and impacts

Using bio-methane from landfill can save up to 60% in CO2 emissions compared with diesel fuel. The lorry uses a Dual-Fuel™ system which enables diesel engines to operate on a combination of bio-methane and diesel, with a shot of diesel acting as a liquid spark plug.

Sainsbury's lorry driverEqually as important, is that the use of bio-methane means Sainsbury's is avoiding use of fossil fuels, used to create conventional fuel. Instead, energy is created from biodegradable and plant waste. Other vehicles operate on compressed or liquefied gas, but this is still based on fossil fuel, which contributes to global warming.

The Sainsbury's lorry will make a daily 500km round trip from the Sainsbury's depot in Bristol to the supermarket's new environmental store in Dartmouth.

Sainsbury's is aiming to reduce the like-for-like distance its fleet and suppliers travel by 5 million km by 2010. It is also working to convert 20% of its online delivery vehicles to electric vans.

Advice to others

Alison Austin, environmental affairs manager, Sainsbury's, says: "This is a real first for how food is delivered in the UK, although the technology is already used in Lille, France where city buses and refuse lorries run on bio-methane. Our aim is to now roll this out to our entire fleet so that we can make this technology work for all food deliveries across the UK, it makes complete environmental sense, and given escalating fuel costs, economic sense too.

The beauty of it is it doesn't use any fossil fuel like conventional fuel. This means the methane from rotting rubbish, which is damaging to our climate is put to positive used. We're extremely proud to be the first UK supermarket to deliver food using these technologies in partnership with Clean Air Power, Gasrec and BOC."


Related links

Sainsbury's - Corporate Responsibility

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