SOUTH AFRICA – Grocery retailer, Shoprite Group has launched a new heavy-duty electric truck as part of its fleet, becoming the first South African retailer to pilot such kind of a truck on its fleet.

The vehicle, a Scania Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), is 100% electric – it has no reliance on fossil fuels and emits no carbon dioxide.

With a range in the region of 350km, the company revealed that the vehicle will be used for local deliveries and will be recharged using renewable energy generated by the group’s existing solar installations.

The refrigerated truck can hold approximately 16 pallets, has nine batteries, solar panels fitted to its roof and a fully electric cooling system which is also powered by the battery packs of the vehicle.

Another first, the truck’s special “glow in the dark” signage will make it more visible when travelling at night.

When exposed to bright (day) light, the signage can absorb and store particles. This stored energy is again emitted when its dark, resulting in a glow.

“As one of Africa’s largest grocery retailers, the Shoprite Group places significant focus on reducing its environmental impact across its operations. One of the ways we’re doing this is by increasing the energy efficiency of our truck fleet.

“The acquisition of this, one of the world’s most advanced electric trucks, which we will charge using our existing renewable energy infrastructure, is another major move in this direction,” says Andrew Havinga, chief supply chain officer for the Group.

The addition of the new electric truck forms part of the Group’s ongoing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its supply chain.

It recently acquired over 100 of the most fuel-efficient Euro 5 compliant trucks in Southern Africa and more than 900 of its trailers are fitted with solar panels which enable the refrigeration and tailgate lift to continue to run on solar power even when the truck is switched off.

The trucks, according to the retailer have a proven fuel saving of around 10% along with lower emissions, forming part of the group’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact.

Shoprite will be growing its fleet of fuel-efficient Euro V trucks annually with an additional 140 units planned by the end of 2023.

To further its sustainability agenda, the retailer recently secured R3.5 billion (US$205m) in loans to be channelled towards expanding its key environmental programmes as part of its wider sustainability strategy.

The financing includes a R2 billion (US$117m) loan from Standard Bank, the banks biggest sustainability loan in the retail sector to date, as well as an R800 million (US$46.8m) sustainability-linked loan.

Another R700 million (US$41m) green loan was obtained from Rand Merchant Bank, a first in the retail sector, with an expected further addition of a sustainability-linked loan.

According to the JSE listed retailer, the funds will go towards investment in renewable energy sources; recycling projects of cardboard and plastic; sustainable packaging including reusable, recyclable and compostable packaging; and driving energy efficiency at its sites including LED lighting, and a monitoring system for refrigeration to reduce energy consumption and waste.

Shoprite aims to achieve net zero-greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, power 25% of operations with renewable energy by 2027, ensure 100% of its own-brand packaging is reusable, recyclable and compostable, and contains on average 30% recycled material content by 2025.

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