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Green logistics using lorries: Models from current practice

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Truck with solar-powered transport refrigeration, in front of it a group of people consulting each other.
Lorries with solar powered transport refrigeration at the Green Logistics Forum on the site of Bodan in Garching. © Bodan

Around 70 specialist participants attended the second "Green Logistics" forum by BNN (Engl.: German Natural Food Association) and organic wholesaler Bodan to find out about sustainable transport technologies. On the premises of its second branch in Garching near Munich, Bodan made room for the presentation of natural gas and electric drives and innovative cooling systems.

Bodan is a pioneer in green logistics in the organic and food industry. Does that mean Dieter Hallerbach, managing director for many years until this summer, is standing there in splendid isolation? That's what Johannes Reichel, head of the department 'Test + Technik' at a specialist magazine for logistics, wanted to find out as moderator of the discussion titled 'Time for Action'. Hallerbach: “I assume that green logistics is going to be found in many companies. All over the place people are contemplating good solutions, and some new ideas are already being implemented and tested. I'm delighted to have many network partners who are going in the same direction and are actively seeking solutions.That gives me pleasure, although I well know that it's tough going, that time and again we as a company are having to learn the hard way. But if we go in the right direction together, we'll all benefit in the long run. I'm firmly convinced of that.“

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Implemented technologies

Bodan supplies more than 550 outlets in the south of Germany and these deliveries include organic products. Since the transport of goods by far causes the biggest proportion of their CO2 emissions, the company is investing in environmentally friendly logistics technologies. Bodan has set the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) from its vehicles running on fossil fuels to zero per cent by 2020. In the interest of sustainability the company is sharing its experience with its competitors.

CO2-based transport refrigeration

35% of Bodan's vehicle fleet have refrigeration that operates with natural CO2 instead of diesel. The CO2 comes from a carbonic acid spring in the Eifel region of Germany and from a mineral water spring near the German city of Rottenburg.

Environmental impact:

  • 75% less CO2 emissions than conventional diesel systems
  • No NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions or other gases
  • No soot particulates

At the Green Logistics Forum, TBV Kühlfahrzeuge GmbH introduced its solar powered transport refrigeration as another alternative, but one which Bodan has not so far used. Christian Oser, TBV Kühlfahrzeuge, explained: "The batteries are charged at the vehicle's location with electricity from renewable energy sources. During a journey, the refrigeration unit uses electricity from the on-board batteries. The solar panels on the box roof generate up to 1.6 KWh of additional electricity, which continuously recharges the batteries. Powered by batteries and with electricity from renewable energy, the refrigeration unit does not produce any CO2, NOx or fine dust. The refrigeration performance does not meet the requirements that Bodan stipulates for the vehicles used every day for delivering goods, explained Silvia Schleider, reponsible for press and public relations at Bodan. She added that they are also not compatible with existing systems.

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Hybrid lorries

The wholesaler is investing in lorries with hybrid drive that charge their batteries by recovering energy during braking (recuperation). Bodan is currently operating two hybrid lorries.

Environmental impact:

  • Substantial reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
  • When running on battery power these lorries are very quiet – an advantage, especially when delivering at night to inner city locations

Gas lorries

Bodan also operates two natural gas lorries (CNG) and one LNG powered lorry and it intends to continue investing. Currently, no other fuel has a better CO2 balance than LNG and CNG. Bodan's preferred fuel for the CNG lorries is biomethane, that is produced by processing 100% waste food and residues.

Environmental impact:

  • Up to 90% less CO2 than when using diesel fuel (with biogas)
  • 95% less NOx emissions (nitrogen oxide), no soot particulates
  • 15% less noise than comparable diesel models


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