Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils will cut their fleet’s carbon emissions by up to 90% – supporting the councils’ carbon neutral aims.

The move follows approval by both councils’ cabinets this week, to switch their vehicle fleet to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO).

Changes form a major step in the councils’ Carbon Reduction Management Plan, which sets out how net zero carbon emissions aim to be achieved by 2030.

Both councils will see a significant reduction in pollutant emissions from their fleet, including up to a 90% reduction in CO2. It will also support a circular economy, as the HVO fuel is produced from sustainable feedstock, including waste cooking oil.

Currently, the councils’ vehicle fleet represents 26% of the councils’ total CO2 emissions, approximately 880 tonnes per year.

The fleet includes the councils’ 35 waste lorries, as well as some vehicles used by the public realm and housing services.

Moving to the new fuel will cost an initial £50k per council for new fuel tanks. A further estimated £56 – £97k per year, per council, over the next three years, will cover fuel costs.

However, by using HVO, lower maintenance costs and longer engine life for the vehicles are expected.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money collected from new development is anticipated to cover most of the initial cost of the two HVO tanks. These will be located at the councils’ depots in Stowmarket and Sudbury.

Cllr Elisabeth Malvisi, cabinet member for environment at Babergh District Council, said:

“This is a major step forward in achieving the ambitions set out in our Carbon Reduction Management Plan.

“Our fleet enables us to carry out some of our most visible work such as collecting your bin, but it also makes up just over a quarter of our emissions.

“With HVO fuel we can quickly and significantly reduce our emissions, and work towards Babergh’s greener, brighter and healthy future.”

HVO fuel provides an almost immediate and efficient way to reduce emissions. This is because, aside from slightly increased fuel costs and new tanks, the transition from traditional diesel fuel to HVO requires minimal changes to the councils’ existing fleet.

Cllr Jessica Fleming, cabinet member for environment at Mid Suffolk District Council, said:

“Helping to create bright and healthy futures for the next generation, while protecting the environment, is one of our most important jobs.

“This move to a greener and cleaner fuel for our fleet will bring us significantly closer to achieving our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2030.

“We know we can’t create a cleaner and healthier environment on our own. However, we hope by setting an example others will be encouraged to follow.”

Formal procurement of a fuel supplier will start straight away, with the changeover expected to be fully rolled out by Summer 2021.