Waitrose, a British supermarket chain, is now powering 10 new eco-friendly delivery trucks with fuel made from food waste, according to Fast Company. The trucks will be able to run 500 miles on the food-based gas, which is about 35% to 40% cheaper than diesel, and emits nearly 70% less carbon dioxide.
The delivery trucks don't run directly on food waste. CNG Fuels has partnered with Waitrose to create biomethane captured from food scraps and provide the grocery chain with fueling stations.
"As of today, there is sufficient biomethane or renewable gas from food waste to fuel thousands of trucks — I would say somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 trucks," CEO of CNG Fuels Phillip Fjeld said.
An increasing number of U.S. communities are running out of land they can dump food waste and other garbage into. The phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” has been around for decades, yet landfills continue to overflow. As neighborhoods begin to overlap with once-remote landfill locations, more people are looking to reduce waste.
Because the recycling-food-into-energy trend is so new, it's unlikely that anyone has attempted calculating the profit potential of this innovative, eco-friendly industry.
In the UK, supermarket chains pay £150 ($186) to dump a ton of food waste into a landfill. Waitrose's conversion of food waste into fuel likely saves the company a monstrous amount by not discarding some $2,300 worth of food daily. It will be interesting to see if other grocery chains, both in the UK and the U.S., will take on similar initiatives.
Grocery chains can capitalize on this growing consumer awareness and demand for sustainable practices by implementing similar food waste initiatives. And while not every chain may be able to overhaul their delivery vehicles, supermarkets can create lucrative campaigns out of ugly produce programs to reduce fresh food waste.
Slowly but surely, grocers' carbon footprint is shrinking. And soon, they'll be able to measure the impact of that trend on their bottom line.