Woolies goes for ‘greener’ trucking

27 October 2010

South Africa’s Woolworths has become one of only a handful of retailers worldwide to pilot a system that uses nitrogen rather than diesel generators to refrigerate its delivery trucks.

The ecoFridge, which uses naturally occurring nitrogen instead of diesel, is fundamentally different from the widely used mechanical systems, and the units can eliminate between 24 to 30 tons of carbon dioxide per truck per year.

The ecoFridge solution also complies with the emission standards set by the Montreal Protocol and it successor, the Kyoto Protocol.

“Woolworths operates likes a think-tank for retail innovation,” Woolworths IT and supply chain director Fawza Essa said in a statement this month. “We believe that even what we do best can be done better.”

“Road transport emits carbon dioxide, which can damage the ozone layer, ultimately resulting in climate change,” Essa said. “We have a responsibility to mitigate the negative impact of our transport on the environment.”

Virtually maintenance-free

The ecoFridge can accurately maintain multiple temperature zones in one truck, allowing the company to comfortably transport products that may need to be stored at different temperatures in one truck.

With no moving parts, it is designed to be one of the quietest transport refrigeration systems of its generation, operating at zero decibels.

The ecoFridge system is virtually maintenance-free, requiring annual inspection only. It lasts twice as long as mechanical systems. If for any reason the nitrogen refrigeration system is damaged, the nitrogen will simply evaporate.

So far, one delivery truck has been fitted with the ecoFridge unit, while a total of four trucks will form part of the trial.

EcoFridge is designed and manufactured by leading specialists Ukram Industries in the Ukraine, and is being introduced locally by Woolworths and its Fast ‘n Fresh Transport Services.

Bio-diesel blend for trucks

Woolworths says it was also the first major South African retailer to introduce SABS-approved bio-diesel to be blended to the fuel for its delivery trucks. Produced from Woolies’ own recycled cooking oil, the additive makes up 5% of the fuel blend, and will save the company 1 200 tons in carbon dioxide emissions per year.

“This is a vital and critical component of Woolworths Good business journey, our plan to protect people and planet,” said Essa.

SAinfo reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material