Wholesale industry sets 2045 net-zero emissions target

electric lorry

The Scottish Wholesale Association has embarked on the first phase of an ambitious project designed to help members and the wider wholesale sector become greener and more sustainable, and ultimately decarbonise the wholesale food supply chain and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045, if not before.

As part of ongoing efforts towards mapping a plan to decarbonise the supply chain, the SWA will focus on distribution fleets – with a particular focus on Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) and Electric Vehicle (EV) technologies – in this first phase of the Decarbonisation of the Wholesale Industry Project. The environmental impact of members’ cold storage facilities will also be researched ready for phase two which will look at energy and buildings.

The SWA has recruited a graduate from Strathclyde University for an initial 12-week placement to carry out the first phase of the project. Jessica Palmer’s appointment is through the Environmental Placement Programme, run by Bright Green Business and supported by the Scottish Government.

Palmer, who has completed her MSc in Environmental Entrepreneurship, will investigate areas of high pollution and energy consumption within the wholesale industry, with a particular focus on distribution fleets and cold storage facilities, identifying and recommending how these could be made more sustainable and environmentally efficient.

Colin Smith, SWA Chief Executive, said: “We’re hugely excited to be driving this vital project. While there are various decarbonisation projects in place in Scotland, the SWA – through our Decarbonisation of the Wholesale Industry Project – has the opportunity to be the first organisation in the UK to investigate and implement the private commercial use of HFC technology and/or EV technology at a sector-wide level.

“As a result, the Scottish wholesale industry could become Scotland’s first ‘commercial testbed’, particularly for HFC. Carrying out this project on an industry scale will generate bigger benefits to our members than if they do it alone – not only in time and cost savings, as we are conducting the research on their behalf, but also in hopefully being able to attract funding.

“Jessica’s report will provide members with a reference tool which will enable them to make calculated investment decisions for the future decarbonisation of their businesses as well as contributing data towards the creation of a wholesale industry net-zero transition plan for 2045.”

The SWA will be working closely with its affiliate member the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and its members which include the developers, producers, manufacturers and infrastructure engineers of HFC and alternative fuel source products. The project outputs will also help identify where investment and infrastructure requirements should be directed by the manufacturers and developers of those alternative fuels and vehicles.

Smith added: “The project will also make recommendations to the Scottish Government, and enterprise organisations, for financial investment in helping the wholesale food and drink supply chain transition to greener technologies.”

In addition, the SWA will be pushing for members to get access to some of the £109m Scottish Government funding set aside for business investment in this technology. Meanwhile, the new Scottish National Investment Bank has been tasked with offering preferential investment to companies looking to use greener technology.