Solving Air Quality in London – An Update

Having the strap line ‘London’s Sustainable Office Supplier’ comes with some pressures. We continually need to demonstrate that the way in which we operate and work with our stakeholders is done in a manner that is contributing to the sustainability agenda.

Having measured our carbon footprint for over a decade we have now reached a point where around 65% of our carbon emissions directly come from our fleet of vans that deliver into London everyday. This high percentage is due to our offices and warehouse taking significant steps towards being a zero carbon operation with 75% of our annual electricity consumption being generated by our Solar PV panels and the remaining25% being purchased on a green tariff. We also have a mature recycling and food composting system in place and have been a zero waste to landfill operation since 2011, further reducing our carbon emissions. Having said this, there is always room to improve and innovate with our focus now being on our fleet.

There are a number of innovations we have done historically that has reduced our fleet emissions including:

  • Planning van routes so drivers finish at their homes
  • Collecting recycling from our clients when we are carrying out a delivery
  • Introducing LPG vehicles

Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London because of poor air quality. We need to be leading with regards to introducing schemes and practices which will help in improving air quality in London and (more importantly) will allow us to share our experiences so that other fleet operators can make informed decisions around de-carbonising their fleets.

Luckily our new parent company, Commercial Ltd, currently operate the largest fleet of privately owned hydrogen fuelled vans in the UK. I think it is safe to say my colleague who has been delivering this project over the last 3 years is the foremost expert on implementing and running a fleet of hydrogen fuelled vans in the country!

With hydrogen and electric fuelled vans seemingly looking like the way forward currently we have also trialled the only fully electric 3.5 tonne van (basically a transit van) in the country. My vision is to have our vans rapidly charge from electricity generated from the Solar PV on our roof while the team are loading up in the mornings. There are a few hurdles to overcome with this potential project but I will provide more updates on this as we progress. One of the main platforms for sharing our experiences is going to be LoCity and their van working groups.


LoCITY is a brand new industry led programme which will help the freight and fleet sector lead the way in improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions. We are LoCity champions and have been sharing our experiences with a whole host of other operators and low carbon solution providers. This collaborative approach is the essence of what sustainability is about – not being afraid to share what works and what doesn’t in order for us all to progress and develop in a sustainable manner.

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