April 7, 2011

Staples Delivers on Fuel Efficiency

Over time, we'll look to increase the number of these trucks in the Staples fleet as an effective way to service our delivery customers while reducing our carbon emissions.      
Michael Payette, North American Fleet Equipment Manager, Staples
Many people know that Staples is a serious competitor in the office-product supply industry. What they may not know is that the company is also a Massachusetts Clean Cities stakeholder leading the way in reducing petroleum consumption.

With $24 billion in sales in 2009 and a fleet of 2,200 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, the movement of products is a big part of Staples' operations. And through its Staples Soul corporate accountability initiative, the company has made a commitment to transport its goods sustainably.

In 2006, Staples North American Fleet Equipment Manager Michael Payette began installing electronic speed control modules in Staples' medium-duty diesel delivery trucks. At a cost of only $7 per truck, the modules prevent the vehicles from traveling faster than 60 mph, improving their fuel economy from the industry standard 8.1 mpg to 10.1 mpg. Speed control, in combination with electronic idle reduction and driver training programs, has improved overall fuel economy in Staples' delivery fleet by 30%.

Today, all of Staples' trucks are equipped with speed control modules, and the company has saved a cumulative 2.9 million gallons of fuel and prevented the emissions of 32,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Staples' annual conventional fuel savings are approaching 1 million gallons.

At the project's start, some drivers worried the speed controls might get in the way of timely deliveries. But analysis by Staples found that driving time increased by only seven minutes per day. Furthermore, the extra time on the road was offset by less frequent trips to the fuel pump. And research by Staples' risk management department found no safety issues associated with limiting truck speed.

Staples is now working to further improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet by incorporating all-electric trucks in high-density urban delivery areas, diesel-electric hybrids in urban delivery areas, lighter composite materials in vehicle body construction, and dynamic routing software. Introduction of 53 all-electric trucks, manufactured by Smith Electric Vehicles, began in November 2010.

"Over time, we'll look to increase the number of these trucks in the Staples fleet as an effective way to service our delivery customers while reducing our carbon emissions," Payette said.

Photo of back end of a box van with Staples logo that reads,