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04/13/2022

Commentary: How retailers can achieve a cleaner, more affordable fleet

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forklift
Propane forklifts produce up to 76% fewer sulfur oxide emissions than electric forklifts, according to an emissions analysis conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council and the Gas Technology Institute.

Retail executives are always rethinking their supply chain, looking for ways to improve operations. Whether the goal is to increase productivity, minimize disruption, cut costs, or reduce emissions, they should look at the equipment and energy sources being used throughout the supply chain.

Using propane-powered technologies can improve environmental and economic performance for businesses of all kinds. Most notably, businesses should consider propane for its forklift fleet and delivery vehicles.

Propane equipment ensures sustainable, low-carbon operation
Supply chains contribute significantly to a company’s carbon footprint. In fact, carbon emissions in supply chains are, on average, four times those of a company’s direct operations. More companies are looking to reduce emissions and one way to do this is by operating clean equipment.

Propane offers a clean, low carbon, versatile energy solution for businesses, helping reduce emissions in their warehouses, distribution centers, and facilities—as well as in nearby communities.

When selecting a forklift fuel, companies making the choice between electric and propane-powered equipment often rely on the fact that electric equipment produces zero emissions during operation but tend to overlook its full emissions profile, which includes site-to-source emissions. Propaneproduces significantly fewer emissions than both diesel and electric.

Electric forklifts’ site-to-source emissions include all the emissions created during the generation and distribution of electricity, as well as the emissions produced in the production of electric batteries. And because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers electric batteries a hazardous material, operators can’t simply dispose of them without severely impacting the environment. Plus, propane forklifts produce up to 76% fewer sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions than electric forklifts, according to an emissions analysis conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and the Gas Technology Institute.

The same study revealed that propane forklift engines can produce up to 94% fewer hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions compared with diesel engines. Additionally, operating propane equipment results in cleaner air for employees, whereas diesel equipment has proven to irritate respiratory issues among employees and the World Health Organization identifies diesel exhaust as a known cancer-causing carcinogen. Because of their low-emissions operation, propane forklifts can work safely indoors (in properly ventilated environments) and outdoors.

Propane offers a clean, low carbon, versatile energy solution for businesses, helping reduce emissions in their warehouses, distribution centers, and facilities.

Once materials leave the warehouse or distribution center, businesses can also rely on propane as a clean energy source for its delivery vehicles. Propane autogas—the name for propane when it is used in a vehicle application—is an ideal energy source for fleets that want to go green. Propane autogas offers fleets a range up to 400 miles per day and performance that can match gasoline- or diesel-fueled vehicles.

Like forklifts, businesses looking to reduce emissions with either propane autogas or electric vehicles should evaluate the site-to-source emissions of their energy source—not just what’s happening at the tailpipe. A recent study from PERC titled, “Decarbonization of MD-HD Vehicles with Propane,” found that propane medium-duty vehicles (up to class 7) provide a lower carbon footprint solution in most of the U.S. when compared to medium-duty EVs that are charged using the electric grid. When comparing the life-cycle equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2eq) emissions of a single medium-duty vehicle, propane autogas on a national average emits 125 tons of CO2eq less than an electric medium-duty vehicle.

In addition to being a low-carbon energy source, today’s propane autogas engines are 90 percent cleaner than EPA standards and reduce NOx emissions by 96 percent compared to the best-in-class clean diesel engine.

Going green doesn’t have to break the budget
Many companies going green have noticed that it can sometimes come with a higher price tag. But with propane, companies can see significant cost savings as a result of their emission reduction efforts.

With forklifts, for example,propane offers cost savings throughout ownership. The capital costs of propane-powered forklifts are almost 30% lower than those for electric, when factoring in the equipment needed for battery recharging. Propane helps avoid these extra expenses, saving money for other line items like new employees, additional training, or business development, to name a few.

Additionally, propane cylinders last three times longer than electric forklift batteries and their lifespan isn’t affected by the amount of fuel left in the tank, whereas a battery with too high or too low of a charge can have a much shorter lifespan. Businesses operating propane can also lock in a fuel contract with their local propane supplier for more savings and financial peace of mind.

Propane autogas is affordable too and reduces more emissions per dollar than any other energy source. When you factor in the cost of a new vehicle and the costs for fuel, fluids, maintenance, and repairs, propane autogas has the lowest cost of any energy source for the lifetime of the vehicle—making achieving these significant emissions reductions attainable for delivery fleets. Not to mention, propane autogas refueling infrastructure is also affordable, and in many cases, fleet owners can attain the equipment from their propane supplier in exchange for a fuel contract.

Best of all, propane is a solution available today for fleets ready to make the transition and start improving their environmental and economic performance. For more information, visit Propane.com.

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