Royal Mail begins transition to renewable diesel alternative for HGVs

Royal Mail is tackling the emissions from its larger fleet by transitioning some of its heavy good vehicles (HGVs) to be fuelled by renewable diesel alternative Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

Royal Mail’s Sheffield mail centre, Midlands Super Hub and Manchester vehicle operating centre are the first sites to transition to HVO with four more locations to follow in the coming months. The locations have been chosen based on where HGVs move significant volumes for major customers. Using HVO at these sites will save a combined consumption of 2.1 million litres of diesel this year.

The transition to HVO is part of Royal Mail’s Steps to Zero plan – a drive to reduce the business’ carbon emissions to net zero by 2040. Through its ambitious plan, Royal Mail has set a long-term target to reduce its average emissions per parcel to 50gCO2e. At 218gCO2e, Royal Mail is already the UK’s greenest option for letters and parcels*.

Through deploying HVO, Royal Mail is also meeting growing demand from its customers to reduce emissions. Royal Mail plans to continue to increase its HVO deployment across its local and national distribution fleet network over the coming years, aiming to reduce its direct emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes of CO2e.

HVO is a drop-in, fossil-free biofuel that can cut up to 90 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to figures from Certas Energy and does not require any engine or fuelling infrastructure modifications.

For the first year of deployment, Certas Energy will be supporting Royal Mail with its roll-out of HVO. 

Rob Fowler, Fleet Director at Royal Mail, said: “We’ve made great progress in decarbonising our operation by introducing 5,000 electric vehicles into our final mile fleet but we also need to focus on our HGVs. At present, the electric and hydrogen alternatives are still in development for HGVs. Vehicle ranges are low, purchase prices are high and infrastructure is in its infancy. That is why we have introduced the use of HVO to decarbonise the HGV fleet within our operation via the most viable low-carbon option.

“We consider HVO to be a transitional fuel that helps us to take steps towards decarbonising our HGV fleet whilst low-emissions technologies continue to advance in this area. We will continue to assess and test other emerging low emission technologies that we could potentially deploy in our larger fleet including electric and hydrogen HGVs. Many of these technologies are still in development and are currently not commercially viable to deploy at scale.”

Clive Betts MP for Sheffield South East said: “I welcome this initiative and hope it’s a first step on Royal Mail’s journey to reduce its carbon emissions from its larger fleet and reach net zero.”

Jamie Hodges, Head of National Accounts at Certas Energy, said: “We are delighted to support Royal Mail in making significant strides in their energy transition. Certas Energy HVO is a transformative transitional fuel, helping Royal Mail to dramatically reduce emissions, with immediate effect and without sacrificing productivity.

“Certas Energy is not just a fuel and energy partner, we are also a road fleet operator, so we appreciate the decarbonisation challenges facing the industry. After exceeding our own 2025 carbon reduction target three years ahead of schedule, thanks to our successful trial of HVO across our depot network, we have every confidence that the renewable fuel will play a pivotal and positive role in plugging the gap to net zero.

“We are dedicated to helping businesses solve the ‘energy trilemma’ and we hope the example set by Royal Mail will inspire others in the industry to take action to accelerate their own sustainability efforts.” 

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