A More Fuel-Efficient Truck Fleet
Logistics doesn't get bigger than Wal-Mart (except maybe the U.S. Military), and so anything they can do to reduce even by a few % is going to have a pretty big impact when measured in barrels of oil or tons of CO2. They have already surpassed one of their goal, which was to achieve a 25% efficiency improvement between 2005 and 2008, and now they are testing some new ways to improve their massive truck fleet with diesel-hybrid, reclaimed cooking grease and liquid natural gas fuels.
Read on for more details (and a cameo by architect Bill McDonough).
Wal-Mart Pilot Program for a Greener Truck Fleet
The 4 new types of trucks that Wal-Mart are testing are:
- A full-propulsion Arvin Meritor hybrid that will initially operate in the Detroit area. This dual-mode diesel-electric hybrid is believed to be the first vehicle of its type
- Fifteen trucks operating in Buckeye, Ariz. distribution center near Phoenix, will be converted to run on Reclaimed Grease Fuel, made with the waste brown cooking grease from Walmart stores. In addition, the remaining trucks located in the Buckeye distribution center will operate on an 80/20 blend of biodiesel made of reclaimed yellow waste grease
- Five Peterbilt Model 386 heavy duty hybrid trucks with diesel-electric hybrid power systems developed by Eaton Corporation and PACCAR, that will be based in Dallas, Houston, Apple Valley, Calif., Atlanta and the Washington/Baltimore regions
- Four Peterbilt Model 386 trucks and one yard truck, which operates only on the distribution center property, will operate on liquid natural gas. These trucks are part of a partnership with the Mojave Air Quality Management District and will operate out of the distribution center in Southern California
Wal-Mart has also been reducing its CO2 footprint by using "better delivery routes and by loading its trailers more efficiently," as well as improvements to the coefficient of drag of the trucks (so they are more 'slippery' and use less energy fighting air resistance -- a big deal especially on the highway).
The new goal set for 2015 is to double the company's fleet efficiency by 2015, using 2005 as the baseline year (which means that the improvement of around 25% already achieved will count as part of that). That's an ambitious goal, but we're sure that all of Wal-Mart's competitors are paying attention and that this kind of effort is helping the whole industry push for more efficiency.
Let's remember though that the ultimate goal should be zero greenhouse gas emissions. It takes a very long time for CO2 to be cycled out of the atmosphere, so even if the rate goes down, GHGs are still accumulating. Cleaner sources of energy will need to be found not only for truck fleets, but also for the actual production of goods too. We encourage Wal-Mart, and others, to plan for the long-term.
Above is Bill McDonough at the 2009 Sustainability Milestone Meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. He was speaking about "the importance of product and supply chain innovation".
For an awesome video of William McDonough, check out: William A. McDonough Conference from 2000. Seriously, check it out.
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