Field: Energy efficiency in transport
Global Technical function: Promoting sustainable practices
Technical Function Unit: Sustainable transport
Geographic Area: Sweden

Improving energy efficiency in transport and logistics operations by reducing fuel consumption.

Axfood conducts food retail and wholesale trade and has an approximate 20% share of the food retail market in Sweden. Retail business is conducted through the Group’s wholly owned Willys and Hemköp chains.

Axfood’s mission is to reduce their climate impact by 75% by 2020. A number of measures are being implemented to this end including eco-efficient driver training accompanied by incentives and  bonuses for drivers who reduce fuel consumption.

The challenge

The main challenge in food transport is to reduce the environmental impacts of fossil fuel consumption. Axfood has set a target of cutting diesel consumption by 10% per tonne-kilometre by 2015 from all transport vehicles owned by the company.

The innovation

Axfood group owns 252 stores. The wholesale business is conducted through Dagab and Axfood Närlivs. Axfood receives fresh food from suppliers at Dagab wholesale and logistic facilities and then repackages and transports it to retail stores. In order to reduce climate impact it is important for the company to reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase the volume of greener fuels in its own fleet of trucks.

As part of promoting sustainable practices in transport activities, Axfood trains its truck drivers on topics like route selection, speed maintenance, the avoidance of frequent breaking, reducing engine idling and planning their driving intelligently.

Axfood also monitors fuel consumption, driving techniques and related areas for each individual’s vehicle using a Fleet Management System implemented by the logistics department. In order to reduce the climate effect of the diesel used, Axfood has started using a diesel that is blended with around 20% renewable raw materials such as crude tall oil, a by-product of the pulp industry.

Environmentally friendly pallets to store the lading have also been introduced. The pallets are manufactured from recyclable plastic and weigh about half as much as the conventional wooden pallets. The pallets take up far less space than conventional pallets and greatly reduce fuel consumption.

Why did it work?

The innovative strategies to reduce the carbon footprint associated with its logistics, emerged from Axfood’s goal to achieve a 75% reduction in its climate impacts by 2020. The company encourages efficient driving amongst staff by rewarding them with a share in environmental bonuses on reducing fuel consumption from trucks. A further reduction in the use of fossil fuel is achieved by switching to alternative and renewable fuels (e.g. biogas/biodiesel). These fuel options offer promising potential to reduce carbon emissions by up to 3% per tonne-kilometre. Capacity utilisation of trucks and trailers has also been increased with the goal of a further 3% reduction per tonne-kilometre.

Further deployment

In the pursuit of sustainable transport, Axfood is now planning to switch to alternative fuels on a major scale (up to 100 percent renewable fuel). An increased shift from road to rail freight is also being looked into as an opportunity.

The maturity of this eco-innovation is estimated to be 8 on the GML scale.