Exel's environmental policy covers the operations of its 140 operating centres as well as its vehicle fleet. Issues covered by the policy include:
CFCs: Exel has 32 million cubic feet of cold stores and 1,000 refrigerated vehicles. All vehicles are insulated with CFC foam and use CFC refrigerants. 34% of cold stores use CFCs, the remainder ammonia. Of those using CFCs, almost one-third are still using the more ozone-depleting R-502, the remainder CFC-22. There is no target to replace the R-502. For vehicles, Exel claims, there is no alternative.
New cold stores are being built with ammonia refrigeration systems, but there is no programme to retrofit old CFC systems, mainly because this would cost £1.5 million per store. Meanwhile, CFC leaks are minimised by regular measurement during topping up.
CFCs have been banned from the rest of Exel's operations. Fire extinguishers are halon-free, and CFC aerosols, both in-house and those used by cleaning contractors, are banned.
Energy: Energy audits are to be carried out at each warehouse, refrigeration plant and office. Fitting electrically operated doors to minimise loss of cold air from freezers and heat recycling from freezers are two areas where savings are being made.
Noise: Lorries and noise are often synonymous, especially in built-up areas and around depots. At depots, noise from waiting vehicles is reduced by using power points to run their refrigeration equipment. On the lorries themselves, Exel is gradually installing air brake silencers and other noise reduction devices.
Recycling: Large amounts of water are used to clean dirty trucks. Several of Exel's depots recycle water from vehicle washes, achieving savings of 90-95%, although again this is restricted to new washes. One wash uses rainwater.
Other initiatives at some, but not all, of Exel's depots include recycling of used engine oil, paper and plastic packaging.
Some work has been undertaken on possible, for reuse. Those beyond repair are sent back to the tyre dealers. Some are shredded, although these, and the unshredded ones, mainly end up in landfills.
Research: A DTp and Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) study on the environmental performance of HGV operating centres is based on Exel's depots. The main goals are to identify low cost methods to minimise noise and physical and visual intrusion.
Vehicle emissions: Exel has no targets to reduce non-CO2 emissions such as particulates and nitrogen oxides from its vehicles, arguing that these will be addressed by its fuel consumption target.
Ensuring compliance: Implementation of many of Exel's environmental initiatives is being directed by "environmental champions" at each of its sites.
Basic audits are conducted at quarterly or half-yearly intervals to check whether the firm's policy is being adhered too. Questions such as "Is fuel consumption measured my vehicle and driver?" and "Have drivers been trained for economy, and are the results monitored?" are asked. Each site is given an overall score from the audit, and the best receives an annual environmental award. Environmental initiatives are also covered in Exel's quarterly in-house magazine.