Bringing milk to stores with the power of waste – Valio’s first bio-gas distribution truck takes to the road

Over the years, Valio has tested equipment that runs on various environmentally-friendly fuels. Now, Valio is taking the next step towards environmentally friendly transportation solutions. Valio’s first bio-gas distribution truck took to the Helsinki region’s roads in September.

The idea to use a bio-gas truck traces its roots back to Valio people’s ideas on the circular economy: we should be able to recycle the waste created in milk production. And since we have been converting waste from Valio dairies to bio gas, why not try an environmentally friendly bio-gas distribution truck to deliver Valio products. Using renewable, Finnish bio gas allows Valio to reduce up to 85% of the fossil carbon dioxide emissions during the fuel’s life cycle.

- We want to try out new, environmentally friendly fuels. One of the raw materials for the bio gas is, among others, side streams from Valio dairies - waste that cannot be used as food. Anything that decomposes and is biodegradable is suitable as a raw material for bio gas. Our goal is to create a perfect circulation where we can use all the side flows of food production effectively. That’s what a circular economy is at its best, says Valio logistics manager Mika Jyrkönen.

Valio participates in bio gas production by providing Finnish energy company Gasum with, among others, its plant waste. Instead of the waste being deposited at a land fill or burned, bio gas plants use them biomethanisation processes to generate bio gas. This gas can, then, be used as fuel in transportation or as an industrial energy source. Because bio gas is formed through biomethanised organic waste, it is a renewable, Finnish fuel.

- It’s great that Finland’s top dairy company can make use of its own waste and therefore reduce its own emissions. Bio gas is financially competitive is comparison to other bio fuels. Roughly 40 percent of Finland’s traffic emissions come from heavy transportation, which is why it is under pressure to reduce those emissions, says Gasum sales manager Juha-Matti Koskinen.

Valio’s new bio-gas distribution truck is a step towards low-emission milk transportation. Using bio gas in milk transportation also supports Finnish Government and EU goals on increasing amounts of gas cars and emissions reduction. One central EU goal is that, by 2025, emissions from new heavy vehicles should be 15 percent lower compared to 2019 levels. Bio gas traffic use can help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions during the fuel’s life cycle by up to 85 percent.

Valio’s first bio-gas distribution truck delivers products from the Helsinki Main Warehouse to stores in the Helsinki region. The Helsinki region was picked as the first usage area thanks to its good gas distribution network. Distribution route efficiency is important to Valio, which is why gas station locations must be taken into account in planning the bio gas truck’s routes. Efficient logistics translates into reduced emissions.

- We have high expectations of bio gas in transportation use. In the beginning, we want to test the operational reliability and the costs of a bio-gas distribution truck. Our findings will show how we move forward. We don’t want to end our experiments here, and we plan to test a milk collection truck that runs on liquefied natural gas (LNB). Some Valio people have also been already using bio gas cars as company cars for a while now, says Valio’s Mika Jyrkönen.