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McDonald's Canada kicks off RNG delivery truck pilot

IMAGE: McDonald's Canada and FortisBC executives in front of a McDonald's tractor
From left to right: Mike Leclair, vice-president of major projects and liquified natural gas at FortisBC, Rod Halladay, McDonald's Canada's regional vice-president of Western Canada, and Sarah Smith, director of low-carbon transportation and LNG business growth at FortisBC. (Courtesy FortisBC Energy Inc.)

The first of seven truck tractors in a McDonald's Canada-led pilot project to test renewable natural gas-powered (RNG) delivery vehicles is now on the road in British Columbia.

McDonald's is partnering with logistics provider Martin Brower of Canada Co. and FortisBC Energy Inc. in the testing.

The other six tractors are scheduled for delivery later this year. If the pilot program in B.C. is successful, McDonald's (MCD-N) plans to expand their use to other regions in Canada. 

"At McDonald's Canada, we know making small changes to our supply chain can result in a big impact, which is why we're working with our long-time distribution partner Martin Brower to help us use our scale for good," said Rob Dick, McDonald’s Canada’s supply chain officer, in the announcement.

"We are committed to providing customers, like McDonald's Canada, with a lower-carbon fuel option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in commercial transportation," said Mike Leclair, FortisBC's vice president of major projects and liquefied natural gas, in the same announcement.

"Renewable natural gas has enormous potential to economically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, a sector that contributes over 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the province."

McDonald's RNG tractor

FortisBC will supply Martin Brower with up to 5,000 gigajoules of RNG over the next year for the seven tractors, which will be 100 per cent powered by RNG.

In a separate initiative in April, McDonald's Canada began a trial with electric-powered trucks in Montreal using the Volvo VNR Class 8 tractor to supply its restaurants in the region. That network is also operated by Martin Brower, out of its Baie d’Urfé distribution centre.

"Globally, we've pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a pledge that we are continuing to make progress towards here in Canada by investing in real and tangible changes like testing seven new Kenworth tractors powered by RNG provided by FortisBC," Dick said in the release.

RNG and sustainability

According to FortisBC, using RNG in compressed natural gas-powered vehicles reduces emissions by upwards of 85 per cent compared to diesel. It also costs about 45 per cent less than traditional diesel fuel when carbon credits are generated and applied to the cost of RNG.

B.C.’s renewable and low-carbon fuel requirement regulations states electric vehicles have a carbon intensity of 19 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule of energy (gCO2e/MJ), compared to RNG at a weighted average of 10 gCO2e/MJ.

In 2018, McDonald’s pledged to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 across its global operations, inclusive of its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, with the data to be verified by the Science Based Targets initiative.

That was accompanied by a goal to reduce its restaurant and office GHG emissions by 36 per cent by the end of 2030, from a 2015 base year. It aims to achieve these goals with renewable energy sourcing, working with its supply-chain and reductions in waste.

“We know people in Canada are looking for us and the broader food industry to take action on issues that matter and act responsibly,” said Gemma Pryor, senior director of the McDonald’s Canada Impact Team in an email response to questions from SustainableBiz in August.

“We have the ability and responsibility to use our scale and scope to tackle both small and big challenges facing our communities locally and globally.”

McDonald's has about 1,400 restaurants in Canada.

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