SOUTH AFRICA – South African grocery retailer Woolworths has embarked on a trial phase for use of electric panel vans as part of its online delivery fleet.

In a post published on social media, the supermarket chain owner highlighted that the move is in line with its vision to be one of the most sustainable retailers in the world.

The test is being done in collaboration with renewable vehicle company Everlectric and logistics company DSV, reports BusinessTech.

“To power the vans, we source electricity from renewable and sustainable sources including rooftop solar PV installations.

“Where onsite generation of renewable energy is not available or practical, we offset 100% of the electricity emissions via renewable energy certificates,” the company said.

Woolworths has offered an online delivery service for several years but launched its same-day delivery service – Woolies Dash – in December 2020. 

Woolies Dash acts as a direct competitor to the popular Checkers Sixy60 service and Pick n Pay’s ASAP service, which also offer same-day delivery.

The retail corporation announced in September that it partnered with Ford and Argo AI to trial self-driving deliveries.

“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford.

“This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president of last-mile delivery for Walmart US.

In the post, the retailer also claimed that it has saved nearly 3,600kgs of CO2 emissions in the last two months.

Woolworths sets new sustainability goals

Furthering its sustainability ambitions, Woolworths recently unveiled its next set of Good Business Journey sustainability goals.

These new goals focus on traceability, transparency, circularity, diversity and inclusivity as well energy and carbon emissions, to include future-focused, measurable targets aimed at making a meaningful difference in critical social, environmental and supply chain issues.

Part of its primary GBJ goals is attainment of fully transparent and traceable supply chain by 2025 and making all its private products to be reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled by 2025

In addition to that, the retailer seeks to ensure all is energy requirements will be from renewable sources by 2030 and attain net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Another business that is testing electric mobility as an option for its service is e-hailing company Bolt.

In June this year, Bolt Food partnered with Cape Town’s Pathway Cycles in an electric bicycle pilot that could see food delivery couriers boosting their income, reducing the service’s impact on the environment, and changing the way fleet owners work with delivery platforms.

Pathway Cycles owns a fleet of environmentally-friendly electric bicycles, each fitted with a Vizicube digital screen box that plays paid-for advertising.

It then partners with couriers registered on the Bolt Food platform to deliver food items ordered via the service.

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