Expert energy analysis and insight for UK businesses.
We challenged Chris Hines – founding member of Surfers Against Sewage and former Sustainability Director of the Eden Project – to find some shining examples of UK businesses who put sustainability at the heart of everything they do.
The first business Chris visited was grocery delivery business Milk & More. With a fleet of electric vehicles powered by renewable energy, it's rebooting the humble electric milk float for the 21st century.
Milk & More is deeply focused on making the grocery industry more sustainable – moving away from single-use plastic packaging and instead using glass bottles and local, organic suppliers. By delivering organic fruit and veg in boxes, and milk in glass bottles, it's reducing plastic waste by approximately 100 tonnes per year.
Milk & More's drivers deliver grocery products like fresh milk, bread, pastries and dairy alternatives to customers’ doors. With over 500 electric vehicles, the business has the largest electric fleet in the UK. And it's not just for show - by switching to electric, it's saving around one million litres of diesel each year. This means the company is not only reducing their carbon footprint, but also making some serious financial savings too.
During the filming of Electric Adventures, Chris Hines met Ian Beardwell, a Milk & More employee and the winner of Milkman of the Year 2018, to find out more about the business' commitment to sustainability, and how the strategy has helped to boost sales.
Ian credited the David Attenborough series The Blue Planet with raising mass awareness about how we can all do our bit for the environment. He thinks it has helped drive sign-ups to Milk & More’s delivery service because customers want to reduce the amount of plastic waste their household produces.
As the driver of an electric delivery vehicle, Ian doesn’t think there’s any trade-off in performance. He says his electric van is: “Quick, quiet, clean, zero emissions. An absolutely fantastic bit of kit.” So he seems to like driving it.
After going out on a milk round with Ian, Chris met the Deputy CEO of Milk & More, Andrew Kendall, who said the electric fleet is something that’s not only important to the business but to its customers. It’s easy to see why. With most deliveries happening before 7am, the reduced noise of an electric delivery vehicle is a key customer benefit.
Milk & More's customers clearly share the company's passion for sustainable grocery options, too. Andrew said that after the business made the decision to remove the typical one-pint plastic milk bottle option from sale, customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive. While plastic recycling is often poor, the company reuses each glass bottle an average of 25 times.
The company wanted to explore the possibility of reducing the impact of its delivery fleet on the planet. After making the switch to electric vehicles, it now covers around 14.5 million electric miles per year delivering products to its customers. An amazing distance, which results in real and credible reductions in carbon emissions and the business' environmental impact.
Andrew said that the biggest challenge Milk & More faced when switching to electric was deciding on the right vehicles for the job. He said a lot of smaller options weren’t right, but that in the end they found the perfect fit for deliveries.
In 2018, the company invested in 200 all-electric StreetScooter vans. Each of these has a 905kg capacity, a range of up to 75 miles, and an eight-cubic metre box - which allows each vehicle to carry 860 pints of milk at a time.
More recently, in June 2019, Milk & More boosted its electric van fleet with 159 LDV EV80 vans. This model has a 56kWh battery, and can carry a load of up to 1,005kg. Its electric motor delivers 134bhp, returning a 0-62mph time of 24 seconds. The EV80 can be charged with a Type 2 or CCS cable, with the latter said to deliver a full charge in 90 minutes(1).
It's amazing how far removed today's electric delivery vehicles are from the traditional milk float - which had all but died out in the UK. With a top speed of less than 20mph and a range of perhaps 60 miles(2), the old-style milk float fell out of favour as doorstep deliveries became fewer and further between.
But new battery technology means that electric vehicles haven't just become a practical alternative to diesel delivery vans: they represent huge savings across the fleet. According to the joint industry and government body Go Ultra Low, shifting to an EV fleet could deliver an SME whole-life cost savings of up to £1,440(3) per vehicle per year.
As EVs have become an increasingly realistic choice for business, there's more support for those looking to invest in a green delivery fleet. The government's plug-in grant saves businesses and individuals up to £3,500 on the cost of a new electric car, or £8,000 on an electric van(4). To support their electric fleet, companies can also get help toward the cost of buying and installing EV charging points through the Workplace Charging Scheme.
Businesses can realise further savings across their electric fleet, such as exemption from road tax and from the Congestion Charge in London. This help, together with increased competition and falling prices in EV leasing, now means that for many businesses, an electric fleet will prove cheaper than a conventionally fuelled one.
As for Milk & More, after such a heavy investment in new technology it's assessing the performance of the electric floats before it invests in more vehicles. Going electric is part of its long-term strategy to provide a sustainable business and to rejuvenate and modernise the doorstep milk delivery industry.
So there you have it, a great example of how you can introduce sustainable measures into your operations, reduce costs and grow as a business. By prioritising sustainability, Milk & More offers a great service that its customers love, engages its staff, and supports a low-carbon future.
Here at EDF Energy, we’re committed to a low-carbon future. We’re here to help make your business more sustainable by going electric.
Did you know we offer an end-to-end business solution to go electric? We offer charging options, vehicle to grid solutions and you can even lease electric vehicles with us.
Speak to us today about electric vehicle fleet options to suit your needs.
Watch all three films to find out more about how these businesses switched to electric fleets to minimise their impact on the planet, and see how it could work for your business too.