April 19, 2012
Frito-Lay is spearheading a new initiative that could help drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the company's expansive fleet of trucks.
Officials from the food giant announced this week that the company plans to add 67 trucks to its fleet that would run on compressed natural gas. The firm plans to significantly expand its use of trucks powered by compressed natural gas, also known as CNG, over the next few years.
The New York Times reports that switching away from standard gas to CNG will save Frito-Lay a significant amount of money, as well as cut its overall carbon emissions. CNG would save the food company roughly $2.50 per gallon-equivalent compared to diesel at current prices. What's more, officials noted they are confident that natural gas prices would continue to remain low over the next few years, as U.S. production continues to rise.
"The good news is that it's a win-win for us, both in terms of our sustainability strategy and reducing our costs," according to Michael O'Connell, the senior director of fleet capability at Frito-Lay. "The payback for the extra cost of the natural gas trucks is a year and a half, so it's a little bit of a no-brainer. We retire approximately 125 tractors a year, and we plan to replace as many of them as we can with natural gas."
Frito-Lay operates the seventh largest private delivery fleet of vehicles in the U.S., according to the Times. The company's decision to transform its fleet is indicative of an overall shift within the domestic trucking industry, experts say. Companies have increasingly worked to offset the costs of rising oil prices and, although they have invested in sustainable energy technologies, a surge in natural gas production has allowed them to improve efficiency and reduce overall transportation costs.
O'Connell said that Frito-Lay would likely deploy its full fleet of trucks powered by CNG by mid-July. What's more, he noted that the switch would save the company – a division of Pepsi Co. – more than 900,000 gallons of fuel each year.
The uptick in natural gas supplies has prompted a number of companies to similarly considering switching to CNG-powered trucks, a segment that could represent as much as one-fifth of the nation's trucking industry in only a year, according to Daniel Ustian, the president of truck builder Navistar.