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.

Fleet Operator on Biodiesel: It'd be Ridiculous Not to Use It

S.K. Davison, Inc. uses biodiesel in all its diesel-powered vehicles, from tractor-trailers to mowers.

Ed Davison has a question for fleets not running on biodiesel blends: Why not?

“What is your argument for not doing it? You want as much black smoke coming out of your exhaust as you can get?  You want the dirtiest emissions of anybody out here?” asks Davison, who co-owns central Illinois hauler S.K. Davison, Inc. with his wife, Sharon. “When it costs nothing to clean up the environment, it would just be absolutely ridiculous to not do it.”

Davison has heard the arguments from fleet managers, especially those with small fleets similar in size to his. They worry about the effect of biodiesel on vehicle performance and warranties, despite OEM acceptance of biodiesel being nearly unanimous, and they worry about cost. But he has answers to those arguments based on more than a decade of experience with biodiesel.

“I use a B20 blend in absolutely everything that’s dieselpowered that we have,” he says. “I’ve never noticed a problem in anything.”

More than a decade of satisfaction with biodiesel.

At S.K. Davison, Inc., that’s a fleet of about two dozen vehicles.  The bulk of them are tractor-trailers, but they also have several dump trucks, a bulldozer and a backhoe for construction work, and some road maintenance mowers. S.K. Davison, Inc.’s primary business is hauling agricultural products for farmers and asphalt and aggregates for construction companies.

Davison was first introduced to biodiesel about 15 years ago, when his fuel provider started offering a B2 blend. They assured him it would work, but he had many of the same concerns he’s heard others express. None of them ever came to be.

“I’ve got a 1977 Cat D6 bulldozer out there, and it works just fine. And biodiesel works in my 2015 Detroit Diesel engine,” he says. “So it works in everything.”

Year-round use of biodiesel has financial and environmental benefits.

Not only does biodiesel perform well, but it also has financial advantages. Biodiesel blends of 11 percent and higher are exempt from Illinois’ 6.25 percent sales tax. Davison also likes that using biodiesel adds value to the products of the same farmers who use his hauling services.

S.K. Davison, Inc. went to a B11 blend in 2005 and B20 in 2012. It now uses B20 year-round, including in the heart of the cold Illinois winters. Cold weather or warm, the fuel performs.

In Davison’s mind, the biggest benefits of using biodiesel are related to the environment. Biodiesel is renewable and a cleanerburning alternative to petroleum diesel. He says it’s usually easier to do things the old way, but fleets of all sizes need to recognize the impact of their decisions.

"I know biodiesel works. It’s better for the environment. And I’m not going  to look my grandkids in the face and  go, ‘Grandpa had a choice and chose  not to do anything for your future." Ed Davison,  Owner of S.K. Davison, Inc.