Scottish wholesalers embarks on ambitious decarbonisation project

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Colin Smith, Scottish Wholesale Association's chief executive

The Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) has announced an ambitious project to decarbonise the wholesale food supply chain and achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

The Decarbonisation of the Wholesale Industry Project will see the SWA focusing on distribution fleets, particularly on Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) and Electric Vehicle (EV) technologies, in its first phase.

The environmental impact of members’ cold storage facilities will also be researched in preparation for phase two which will look at energy and buildings.

The trade body has recruited Strathclyde University graduate Jessica Palmer for an initial 12-week placement to carry out the first phase of the project through the Environmental Placement Programme, run by Bright Green Business and supported by the Scottish Government.

“While there are various decarbonisation projects in place in Scotland, the SWA – through our Decarbonisation of the Wholesale Industry Project – has the opportunity to be the first organisation in the UK to investigate and implement the private commercial use of HFC technology and/or EV technology at a sector-wide level,” commented Colin Smith, SWA chief executive.

“As a result, the Scottish wholesale industry could become Scotland’s first ‘commercial testbed’, particularly for HFC. Carrying out this project on an industry scale will generate bigger benefits to our members than if they do it alone – not only in time and cost savings, as we are conducting the research on their behalf, but also in hopefully being able to attract funding.

The SWA said it will be working closely with its affiliate member the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and its members which include the developers, producers, manufacturers and infrastructure engineers of HFC and alternative fuel source products.

The project outputs will also help identify where investment and infrastructure requirements should be directed by the manufacturers and developers of those alternative fuels and vehicles.

“The project will also make recommendations to the Scottish Government, and enterprise organisations, for financial investment in helping the wholesale food and drink supply chain transition to greener technologies,” Smith added.

In addition, the SWA will be pushing for members to get access to some of the £109 million Scottish Government funding set aside for business investment in this technology. Meanwhile, the new Scottish National Investment Bank has been tasked with offering preferential investment to companies looking to use greener technology.