New York City biodiesel supplier signs contract

By Kris Bevill | January 17, 2008
Tri-State Biodiesel, a New York City-based company that collects waste cooking oil as a feedstock for local biodiesel producers, recently agreed to supply biodiesel to a local online grocer's 150-truck fleet, which would be the largest privately owned fleet in the city to be fueled by biodiesel.

All of FreshDirect's trucks will be using B5 by the end of February. It began filling 30 of its trucks with B5 in early January and has been gradually phasing the fuel into the rest of the fleet. Tri-State, which purchases finished biodiesel from the same local producers it sends feedstock to, predicts that FreshDirect's fleet will use 10 to 15 gallons of biodiesel-blended fuel per truck per day, resulting in approximately 600,000 gallons of biodiesel-blended fuel per year. Tri-State's own trucks run on B20, Baker said, and the company may increase the blend ratio if manufacturer warranties allow it.

FreshDirect's switch to biodiesel will result in a 7.5 million-pound reduction of carbon dioxide released into New York City's atmosphere each year, according to Tri-State.

"Our trucks are a mass transit system for food in the communities we serve, and we are committed to making the fleet run as clean-burning and low-impact as possible," said Adrian Williams, FreshDirect's senior vice president of transportation. "Biodiesel does not require retrofitting our equipment and enables us to reduce emissions without complicated delays. Our conversion to biodiesel is but one example of our company's environmental stewardship and support of a sustainable future for New York."

In 2006, Tri-State began collecting waste cooking oil from various New York City restaurants. Specially outfitted tanker trucks are sent to collect the oil, free of charge, from restaurants and deliver it to Tri-State's storage facility in Brooklyn. From there, tankers transport the waste oil to local biodiesel producers, who make the renewable fuel. Baker said Tri-State's trucks are currently collecting from approximately 1,500 various eateries in the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens areas. "We've been expanding rapidly, and we expect that we'll continue to do so," he said. "Our services have been extremely well-received by the restaurants and the food preparation community. Our phones are ringing every day with new clients looking to sign up with our service."

Although FreshDirect is the largest fleet that Tri-State supplies biodiesel to, it isn't the first. Tri-State has been supplying biodiesel to smaller local companies for some time, including Whole Foods Market, a natural and organic food store chain. Baker estimated that on any given day there are 50 trucks on New York streets using Tri-State's biodiesel, and that number will increase once FreshDirect's entire fleet begins using biodiesel.

The rising cost of soybean oil has caused to some hesitation on behalf of fleet managers to start fueling their trucks with biodiesel. However, Baker said his company works hard to keep prices competitive and that the use of Tri-State Biodiesel's fuel in FreshDirect's fleet is a great step toward positive exposure for biodiesel.
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