The Carbon-neutral truck that runs on cow muck is raising the steaks
Published: 08 Nov 2019

Hundreds of John Lewis delivery trucks are to run on cow power from 2021 as the retailer announced that it is removing polluting diesel fuel from its fleet, and instead switches to carbon-neutral methane. 

They are to begin using renewable biomethane made from manure slurry to fuel around 300 John Lewis and Waitrose delivery vans. This is under new plans from its fuel supplier to swap rotting vegetables for manure-based power at no extra cost. Currently, John Lewis runs 80 vans on biomethane that is sourced from food wasted, but they are looking to expand their green fleet by up to 200 vans - just within the next 18 months - before next switching to manure. The fuel supplier for the company, CNG Fuels, has said that it also planned to use the manure-based fuel to supply a fleet of trucks that are used by the courier service Hermes, also 200 vans, as well as the delivery vans of Asda and Argos. 

A spokesman for the supplier has said that the majority of the manure that is used to make the fuel would be sourced from the cows, but the slurry could include human sewage as well. According to the heavy vehicle fuelling specialist, using biomethane made from food scraps can serve to reduce the carbon emissions of delivery vans by near to 85%, compared to those running on diesel. Biomethane made from manure is considered carbon-neutral under the EU law, because it serves to help stop methane (a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent than CO2) from being released into the atmosphere. 

CNG is always looking at different ways to update its network of heavy vehicle fuelling stations, looking to include low-carbon hydrogen, and powerful battery charging options. Commenting on this, the Chief Executive of CNG Fuels, Phillip Fjeld has said, "Renewable biomethane sourced from manure is currently the best low-carbon solution for HGVs, but we want to be ready to support our customers when other technologies are commercially viable for freight transport."

HGVs, or Heavy Goods Vehicles, account for 4.2% of the UK's carbon emissions, so looking to decarbonise this sector is going to be essential if the UK is to meet the Net Zero target by 2050. John Lewis announced that last year, it had planned to switch its heavy delivery trucks to biomethane-powered versions by 2028. The overhaul will look to include the roll-out of over 500 state-of-the-art Waitrose & Partners, and John Lewis & Partners delivery trucks that are to be powered by renewable biomethane fuel. Once converted, the new fleet will save more than 49,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually - this is the equivalent carbon footprint of just over 6,000 UK households.