Jun 14, 2017

First Mile sets out action plan to combat air pollution on Clean Air Day

Words by Bruce Bratley

London breached its air pollution limit for the whole of 2017 in just 5 days and it’s predicted the lives of more than 50,000 people in London alone will be cut short by air pollution by 2030. These stats show the seriousness of the air pollution issue and prove it’s affecting people’s health and wellbeing, as well as our environment.HGV Vehicles like the ones that collect waste almost always use diesel and the fumes account for 11% of London’s pollution. We think that needs to change, and are constantly working to reduce our emissions.

Today is Clean Air Day so here’s our working action plan for cleaner air:

  1. Zero-emission collections for central London – We are consolidating collections where possible in dense areas using zero-emission vehicles or containers to collect waste. For example, by aggregating the sacks we collect in an area of Soho we have reduced the collections one driver had to make in a year from 40,000 to 253, reducing our emissions and diesel road miles significantly. We will continue to engage landlords, Business Improvement Districts and local areas to launch more of these schemes in areas where it is feasible.
  2. Electric, CNG, and other diesel alternatives - This year we will invest in Electric and CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) powered vehicles to start taking the place of diesel in our fleet. CNG produces the fewest emissions of all other fuels and can be used to make collections. For deliveries, alongside electric vehicles, we are investing in power-assisted bikes to distribute sacks in central areas, creating no emissions at all.
  3. London’s first ‘Sacktory®’ - We are currently building a sack sorting facility which will enable us to collect more streams of waste on the same vehicles. This is a huge breakthrough because not only does it mean we’ll be able to recycle more but we will be able to take a number of rounds off the road, eliminating those vehicles emissions altogether. Work is underway and the first iteration of the facility will complete in September.
  4. Freight consolidation and route optimisation – We work with many associations to consolidate the waste supply chain and reduce vehicles. For example, the Bond Street Association used to have over 40 waste vehicles visiting daily but this has been reduced to just two approved suppliers, lowering CO2 substantially. First Mile also uses mapping technology to optimise collections meaning we can collect and recycle more whilst travelling around the streets less.
  5. Euro 6 Vehicle Standards and Carbon Offset - Whilst it is not possible to operate our business without diesel yet we do all we can to offset the emissions we do generate. Firstly, our vehicles meet the latest EU emissions standards and secondly, we measure and offset all our emissions by funding clean energy projects that produce green energy to take the place of fossil fuels.

What can you do?

  1. Talk to us - If you would like to know more about how we’re creating cleaner air you can speak to us. We are ready to talk to other operators, customers, and their supply chains because in our view London needs to work together to solve the problem. We can also advise on what your business may be able to do to help.
  2. Recycle, recycle, recycle - Although what you put in the bin each day may be seen as a small action, it will influence the future of the planet on a huge scale. By recycling rather than sending waste to landfill, we can reduce the air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels. This means less smog, acid rain and global warming. We’re on a mission to make it easy for businesses to recycle everything with low cost, convenient collection times; what we do every day for our customers is cleaning up the air.

There is still a lot to do but we are pleased to say our plans are already underway and starting to deliver air quality improvements.

We are calling on other HGV operators to do the same now in order to make progress. With more vehicles on the road than ever before it’s essential that companies partner to combat this issue in order to save our planet for future generations. A change of approach by forward-thinking companies is the only way to combat air pollution.

By Bruce Bratley

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