In a development that underscores Amazon.com Inc’s push towards reducing its carbon footprint, the world’s biggest e-commerce retailer has ordered more than 1,000 truck engines that run on compressed natural gas, marking its latest shift away from heavy polluting trucks.
In 2020, as a result of the coronavirus induced pandemic, there has been a surge in delivery activity with truck volumes exceeding 2019 levels on average compared to passenger car traffic. Since trucks emit more greenhouse gases than passenger vehicles, the increase in their activity levels means more pollution.
According to U.S. federal data, while most freight is transported vide medium and heavy-duty trucks, they contribute more than 20% of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions although they make up less than 5% of the road fleet.
“Amazon is excited about introducing new sustainable solutions for freight transportation and is working on testing a number of new vehicle types including electric, CNG and others,” said the company in a statement.
Amazon.com Inc’s online sales surged by 38% in 2020. It plans to run a carbon neutral business by 2040.
The truck engines were supplied by a joint venture between Vancouver-based Westport Fuel Systems Inc and Cummins Inc. They will be used for Amazon’s heavy duty trucks that run from warehouses to distribution centers.
According to two sources familiar with the matter at hand, the trucks can operate on both renewable and non-renewable natural gas.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, CNG emits approximately 27% less carbon dioxide compared to diesel fuel.
In 2019, Amazon had ordered 100,000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive LLC, a startup, which is scheduled to start delivery of the vehicles later this year. Amazon has also ordered 1,800 electric vans from Mercedes-Benz for its European delivery fleet.
Incidentally, RNG and natural gas are both methane gases and the term can be used interchangeably. RNG is derived from the decomposition of organic matter including cow manure on dairy farms, human waste in water treatment plants and discarded food in landfills. RNG is also said prevent naturally occurring methane, a greenhouse gas, from being released into the environment.