US Foodservice-Atlanta switches to B5

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 21, 2009
U.S. Foodservice's Atlanta division received its first 7,500 gallon delivery of B5 in early November, making Atlanta the company's third division to switch to biodiesel blends. The Atlanta division is using B5 in its 185 tractors that distribute food and related products to restaurants, healthcare facilities, lodging establishments, cafeterias, schools and colleges in Georgia and neighboring states. It is the first company to use biodiesel fleet-wide in Georgia. In addition to using biodiesel blends in the tractors, the fuel will power the company's four-cylinder Thermo King engines in 210 refrigerated trailers. S.A. White Oil Co. of Marietta, Ga., is supplying the biodiesel blend to the food distributor.

Atlanta joins the U.S. Foodservice division in Plymouth, Minn., which uses B5, and the Streator, Ill., division which uses B11. The Minnesota facility has used biodiesel blends for years, the company stated, starting with B3 and switching to the state-mandated B5. "The division has had no performance or engine longevity issues," a company spokesman said. U.S. Foodservice-Minnesota is exploring a switch to B10 ahead of the Minnesota state-mandate increase that takes effect in 2012, studying the best way to use it effectively year-round. The Illinois division currently uses B11 only in non-winter months.

U.S. Foodservices reported the biodiesel blended fuel costs on average about a penny more per gallon. Biodiesel use is expected to reduce the U.S. Foodservice-Atlanta fleet's carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 788,000 pounds-or about 4 percent-annually. That's roughly the equivalent of taking 65 cars off the road or planting more than 3,150 trees every year. The company estimates its total biodiesel usage in 2009 will be about 1.85 million gallons, about 4 percent of the company's total fuel use, which includes Minnesota, Illinois and estimates for Atlanta's two-month usage. Biodiesel fuel is being testing in other locations as well.

"Utilizing biodiesel is a continuation of our ongoing environmental strategy," said John Leake, president of U.S. Foodservice-Atlanta. "Improving our overall impact on the environment, while helping our customers find effective ways to do the same, not only makes good business sense, it's the right thing to do."

U.S. Foodservice-Atlanta is active with and has a leadership role in several local, regional and state efforts to promote and protect the environment, including the Georgia DNR Project, Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia and the Atlanta Zero Waste Zone. The division, which serves the entire state of Georgia and parts of the five bordering states of Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, has reduced electrical consumption by 18 percent using fluorescent lamps, decreased waste by 55 percent through recovery and recycling programs, and saved fuel by decreasing truck idle time below 2 percent.

U.S. Foodservice, based in Rosemont, Ill., is the second largest broadline foodservice distributor in the U.S., operating more than 60 distribution centers across the country. It operates and maintains one of the largest private refrigerated transport fleets in the U.S., with more than 6,000 tractor trailers that travel more than 250 million miles every year.
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