Biodiesel Driving Business to National Fleet

The sustainability trend has swept across the transportation and fuel industries in recent years. Biodiesel has helped G&D Integrated, a for-hire carrier, meet its own environmental goals and win business. 

Helping the Environment and Profits

G&D Integrated has found that sustainability is not only about its own goals, but also what it can do to meet its customers’ goals to be environmentally friendly.

“We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at the for-hire carrier. “We’ve actually been awarded freight based on our biodiesel usage.”

Those customers are found worldwide and do business in heavy equipment manufacturing and parts fulfillment, agricultural machinery, automotive parts and components, food containers and food packaging.

Located in central Illinois, G&D Integrated’s services include transportation, warehousing, and distribution and logistics. On the transportation side, it offers point-to-point hauling, dedicated contract carriage, ocean container drayage and freight brokerage.

Its fleet of 430 vehicles travels up to 26 million miles annually. The diesel-powered units run year-round on a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, which is known as B20.

Biodiesel has been key not only in the company’s sustainability efforts but also in growing its business. For instance, biodiesel usage is showing up in some RFPs and, Buonassi says, has been “directly related” to the company winning bids. It also has helped G&D Integrated strengthen its relationship with East Coast ports that want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many of our customers analyze their entire supply chain for environmental impact, and some have even gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their purchasing departments,” he says.

Significant carbon reduction

The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from G&D’s use of biodiesel is equal to nearly 230,000 fewer gallons of gasoline consumed each year. Particulate matter is reduced by 2,854 pounds annually. The numbers come from the B20 Club, a program from the Illinois Soybean Association and the American Lung Association.

“We’re talking a material difference here,” Buonassi says.

G&D Integrated started using biodiesel several years ago after its fuel supplier, Ag-Land FS Inc., introduced the company to the fuel.

“They were claiming that this product would not only cost us less money but also would not result in any efficiency losses,” Buonassi says.

He has found that to be true and says biodiesel has not caused G&D Integrated to increase its rates.

Fuel that performs

G&D Integrated started with a B11 blend before quickly moving up to B20. Each time, it rigorously tested the fuel.

“What we observed was there was absolutely zero degradation in performance,” Buonassi says.

In fact, biodiesel added lubricity. It has also performed well in cold weather. Buonassi credits partnering with a quality vendor like Ag-Land FS to getting a good product. The fuel comes from REG.

“A company like REG has production facilities that make top-of-the-line, quality-controlled biodiesel,” he says. “And they’re sourcing different forms of feedstock that go through testing before being converted to the end product.”

It’s an end product that Buonassi credits with helping G&D Integrated stay ahead of the curve.

“There’s really no sense in fighting the tide of sustainability,” he says. “A lot of other truck carriers will. At G&D, we feel it's our duty to be good environmental custodians, and it makes business sense for us.”

The Bottom Line

Environment

G&D Integrated's biodiesel use reduces:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 230,000 gallons of gasoline annually
  • More than 2,800 pounds of particulate matter

Performance

No drop in fleet performance compared with petroleum diesel.
Uses up to a B20 blend in cold weather.

Business

G&D Integrated has been awarded business because of biodiesel use.

Watch: G&D Integrated Explains Biodiesel Benefits

Before G&D Integrated fully embraced biodiesel, it extensively tested how it's fleet performed. See the results.

Growing the Biodiesel Business with Proven Results

To introduce biodiesel to their customers, Ag-Land FS, Inc., put the benefits front and center.

Success in the field proves biodiesel’s value.

When Ag-Land FS, Inc., began marketing biodiesel blended fuel in 2002, they knew they needed to provide data and prove to farmer members that biodiesel was a viable alternative.

“We did not want to come into the marketplace until we actually took biodiesel into the field and put it on trial,” says Kevin Lockart, energy consultant with Ag-Land FS. “So we did some testing with the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District that proved biodiesel blended fuel was a viable option for our commercial and agricultural customers.”

Once that test proved successful, the transition was easy and customers were excited about the potential of biodiesel.

Economic benefits help convince customers. 

In addition to supporting local farmers and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, biodiesel gave Ag-Land FS customers a significant economic edge. In Illinois, the sales tax on transportation fuel can be up to 25 cents higher per gallon than taxes in neighboring states. But when a retailer offers biodiesel blends of B11 or higher, the biodiesel blended fuel is not subject to the additional sales tax.

“We began offering a B2 biodiesel blended fuel in 2002 and rapidly moved to offer a B11 blend to take advantage of the Illinois tax abatement,” says Lockart. “I must admit it wasn’t an easy transition, and it took a lot of work, but looking back it was worth the effort. I estimate 95 percent of farmers in our trade territory utilize a B11 or higher biodiesel blended fuel today.”

Passing savings to customers helps increase market share. 

By passing the tax savings on to their customers, Ag-Land FS was able to increase their market share beyond the agricultural industry. The Greater Peoria Mass Transit system has been using biodiesel blended fuel for the past 10 years, as well as several other over-the-road trucking fleets in the Peoria area, ranging from five to 500 trucks. Many of these Ag-Land FS customers have experienced increases in mileage using biodiesel blends — up to 6.5 percent with on-road trucks — particularly those that do a lot of stopping and going.

"We are lessening dependence on foreign oil. The greenhouse gas emission reduction is probably what drives Ag-Land FS, Inc., more than anything. It's one of those rare things where it's the right thing to do."
Kevin Lockart, Energy Management Specialist, Ag-Land FS, Inc.
 
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