The John Lewis Partnership has stepped up its zero-carbon ambitions with plans to build a biomethane gas filling station to give its largest heavy goods vehicles an alternative to diesel.
The Waitrose and John Lewis owner also revealed a 2030 target to stop using fossil fuels across its entire 4,800-strong transport fleet.
In March 2019, JLP pledged to be net zero carbon across its entire operations by 2050 at the latest, with its 600 heavy goods vehicles to be switched to low-carbon biomethane by 2028. Since then, the partnership has reduced its total operational carbon emissions by 6.6% and emissions from transport have fallen by 6.9%.
The new biomethane gas filling station will be built in conjunction with French industrial gases multinational Air Liquide and is set to open at the JLP head office in Bracknell in December 2020.
The group said it would serve approximately 120 Waitrose heavy goods trucks and complement gas filling stations already in use near to John Lewis and Waitrose regional distribution centres in Lancashire and Northamptonshire.
Vehicles will run on biomethane made from food waste and waste materials rather than diesel, reducing CO2 emissions by 80%, with each truck saving more than 100 tonnes of CO2 every year.
The gas trucks were also quieter, decreasing noise pollution, which was “especially important for urban deliveries”, JLP said.
Over the next seven years, the Bracknell site would save more than 70,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the carbon footprint produced by more than 13,000 UK households, the group added.
“The evidence of climate change is all around us, so it’s important we act now using available technology rather than wait for unproven solutions to appear,” said Justin Laney, general manager of central transport at the John Lewis Partnership.
“We are working hard towards our new aim of removing all fossil fuel from our transport fleet by 2030, which will reduce our carbon emissions by over half a million tonnes and gets us well on the way to our ultimate target of operating a net zero-carbon emission fleet.”
Since 2015, 85 of the partnership’s heavy diesel vehicles have been replaced with biomethane trucks, and a further 143 will be purchased and in operation by the end of 2020.
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. The move 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 would use hydrotreated vegetable oil biodiesel.
In addition to reducing transport carbon emissions, the partnership is also reducing the carbon emissions produced by its shops, with refrigeration units used in Waitrose being replaced. Hydrofluorocarbons – the greenhouse gases used in cooling systems – are currently being switched to HFC-free refrigerators and this will be completed by 2028.