One of the trends in the convenience store industry for 2021 is giving customers options for alternative fuels, as CStore Decisions recently reported. A major reason for this is the fast-growing sustainability movement. The general public, businesses, elected officials — all are pushing for action that helps the environment.
C-stores can both meet that customer demand and play a role in bringing about positive change by offering cleaner fuels.
Looking at diesel alternatives, which is my area of expertise, many of you are offering cleaner-burning alternatives like biodiesel. The National Biodiesel Board lists over 1,700 retail locations in the U.S. that sell biodiesel.
But here’s my challenge to you: Are you doing enough? More specifically, could you be offering higher blends of bio-based fuel? By doing so, you would be giving your customers choices within alternative fuel options, and it would allow you to be an even greater sustainability partner to your customers.
What’s the Right Blend?
Now is a great time to consider this because springtime is when retailers typically increase their biodiesel blend levels. While many sell B20 (a fuel that is 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum diesel) year-round, it’s not uncommon for them to lower that to B10 or B5 during the coldest parts of winter.
In heavy-duty highway engines, a B20 blend has been shown to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 15%, particulate matter and carbon monoxide emissions by more than 10%, and unburned hydrocarbons by more than 20% compared with petroleum diesel. That’s approximately double the reductions from B10. Higher biodiesel blends mean greater environmental benefits.
The good news for you and your customers is that no vehicle or equipment upgrades are required with B20. And adjusting blend levels is a cinch, according to Sapp Bros. Travel Centers.
“The blending economics make B20 a smart choice for us,” said Kevin Cassidy, a Sapp Bros. vice president. “And I’ve had drivers say it’s cleaned up their fuel systems, cleaned their fuel injectors, and they actually get better mileage with biodiesel blends versus a regular No. 2 ULSD because of the clean injectors.”
Picking a blend level can depend on your situation, and I’d encourage you to talk with your fuel supplier about what’s best for your customers and locations. You can also reach out to me, and REG can help guide you through the decision-making process.
Ultimately, I think all of us in the fuel and transportation industries see where things are headed with sustainability. A growing number of private and public sector organizations are declaring their intentions to reduce their carbon footprints and adopting sustainability policies.
C-stores that can promote themselves as sustainability partners and help customers achieve their goals will be well-positioned for success into the future.