Regular Fuel For 'Green' Supermarket

What happened to the biodesel?

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The online supermarket Ocado has been spotted filling up its delivery vans with regular diesel at a Shepherd's Bush petrol station, despite claiming to be an environmentally-friendly company.

Ocado stresses its green credentials on its website, stating: "Our low-emission vans run on biodiesel, which we introduced a few years ago, when studies proved that it was one of the most efficient fuels available. Following recent negative reports, we are now investigating the benefits of biodiesel and other fuels in relation to their overall environmental impact. However, in the meantime, we’ll keep using biodiesel and working hard to source it in a sustainable way."

However, an Independent reader spotted and photographed one of the company's vans filling up with regular diesel at the BP Connect petrol station in Shepherd's Bush.

A spokesman for Ocado explained: "All of our sites across two thirds of the country (the full extent of our delivery
geography) offer bio-fuel facilities, bar our newest regional 'hub' in West London. Unfortunately we do not have planning permission for a bio-fuelling station here.
Hence a small number of our vans have to fuel up at the local Shepherd's Bush BP.

"Putting this into context: those few West London vans account for under 2% of our annual fuel useage. 98% of Ocado's annual fuel consumption is via bio-diesel.

"The company made a decision when the West London hub opened last October not to re-livery 700 vans for the sake of just 2% but, earlier this week, it did update the
information pages on its website to explain clearly to customers that a tiny fraction of its vans do use standard fuel.

"Ocado remains proud of its green credentials. As the website illustrates, it is working hard to offer a revolutionary and greener alternative to the bricks & mortar supermarket shop. Ocado has a unique business model with one central distribution centre rather than a network of energy-guzzling stores, it runs a pioneering closed loop carrier bag recycling policy (drivers collect old Ocado bags, they're recycled at Ocado's main base in Hatfield, and then used for new deliveries within a fortnight) and, according to carbon specialists Greenstone (audit, June 2009) it boasts a lower carbon footprint than the local supermarket (in terms of tonnes of
carbon per million pound of sales) even if you walk to it.

"Ocado takes it environmental responsibilities incredibly seriously as its service continues to grow. In the case of our West London (White City) hub, Ocado begins trials with a new-design electric van next week (May 31). We are continually looking at ways to improve our customer and eco-offering."

Ocado's White City delivery depot, which opened last autumn, is located in Ariel Way next to the Hammersmith and City Line railway line.

The 10,000 sq metre site is a distribution 'spoke', sorting orders from Ocado's central Hatfield warehouse into local delivery vans and handles around 9,000 orders per week.

Ocado said they chose White City for their new depot because the area offers good road links to the rest of London, which is the hub's main delivery focus.

The site has no employee parking and Ocado says it encourages staff to commute by bike and public transport.

May 28, 2010