Food Surplus Management invests in cleaner CNG fleet

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Natural Gas powered vehicles transport waste for renewable gas production

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered vehicle numbers climbed 50% in Ireland last year, as the number worldwide grew to more than 28 million.

One Irish company on a journey to a more sustainable CNG fleet is the award-winning Meath-based Food Surplus Management (FSM), which currently has three Scania CNG trucks and plans to move its entire fleet of 35 trucks to this eco-friendly alternative fuel source.

FSM is the market leader in the collection and processing of short-dated and surplus food from the country’s leading retail outlets and the hospitality industry, delivering the most hygienic and sustainable food waste collection service throughout in Ireland.

Studies show that switching from diesel to CNG can reduce well-to-wheel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 23% compared to diesel (CENEX, 2019) and nitrous oxide (NOx) by up to 50% (UK Department of Transport, 2018).

A proven and reliable alternative to diesel or petrol, particularly for long haul heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses, CNG also offers cost savings of up to 35%. To encourage Ireland’s fleet operators and hauliers to take advantage of these additional cost savings and choose this cleaner fuel option for their vehicles, Gas Networks Ireland has launched a CNG Vehicle Grant Scheme* which provides grants of up to €5,000 for new CNG vehicles, up to maximum of €60,000 per business.

FSM Managing Director, Niall Lord, said the use of CNG vehicles is part of the company’s sustainability goals: “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. The entire ethos of our business is to take surplus products and provide a service that is not only more cost-effective than composting and landfill but is also the most environmentally sustainable method of handling food,” Niall said.

“Incorporating CNG trucks as part of our fleet was a natural progression for FSM, allowing us to take responsibility for our own carbon footprint as well as our customers. It also showcases this commitment to our customers from a corporate social responsibility perspective.

CNG vehicles offer excellent efficiency, low maintenance costs and are similar in terms of power to diesel HGVs. We have noticed a marked difference in the engine of the vehicle; as it is a cleaner fuel, the engines are cleaner which makes a big difference in servicing and maintenance. From a power perspective, the CNG truck is as strong as any other vehicle in our fleet.”

FSM’s fleet of CNG vehicles operate across Ireland and recover 95% of all food collected for renewable gas production and 5% for other sustainable industries.

Food collected by FSM is de-packed, bulked together and transferred by FSM for processing in anaerobic digestion (AD) plants, which convert the food waste into a sustainable, carbon neutral, renewable gas known as biomethane, which is structurally identical to natural gas and fully compatible with existing gas infrastructure, technology and vehicles.

Biomethane was first introduced to Ireland’s national gas network in 2019. As the volume of biomethane on the national gas network increases in the future, all vehicles refuelling from the network, including FSM’s fleet, will gradually reduce their carbon footprint further without needing to change a thing, driving an increasingly sustainable fleet.

“We are supplying AD plants with the material to produce renewable gas, so it was a good fit for our company to operate our trucks on gas powered vehicles,” Niall added.

While Gas Networks Ireland continues to roll out its network of CNG stations across the country, with two more set to open in the coming months, FSM is also working with the national utility on plans to install CNG fuel pumps on-site in Trim, County Meath. FSM operates on a back-to-base model and the installation of a CNG station onsite will allow the company to transition all its fleet to CNG-powered trucks.

The journey towards a cleaner transport system in Ireland is challenging as HGVs and buses are responsible for a disproportionate amount of transport emissions. However, Gas Networks Ireland and companies such as FSM are committed to playing their part in creating a cleaner energy future for transport.

*Gas Networks Ireland’s CNG Vehicle Grant Scheme is co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T Programme under the Connecting Europe Facility as part of the Green Connect Project. Applications are now being accepted at www.gasnetworks.ie/cngvehiclegrant