The world continues to advance in bold and exciting ways and new technologies enter the marketplace, each day. With progress, often comes regression when relating to the global environment.
Today, we’re living in a society where the focus on environmental protection and the cultivation of a more sustainable future are ever present.
For many younger consumers, the environment is the defining issue of our time. That’s hardly surprising, given the growing fears over global warming. However, it’s also influencing their shopping habits, posing a serious challenge for retailers.
Research by consultancy Alchemmy shows that 75% of Gen Z shoppers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by whether a brand or product aligns with their green values.
Sustainability is quickly becoming a priority for consumers, businesses, and governments; therefore, fuel retailers are having to adapt their convenience-centric approach to meet younger consumers’ environmental demands. It is clear that embracing a holistic approach to sustainability has become a top priority and is at the heart of all daily operations.
We are seeing the fuel retail market quickly adopting measures around water usage, energy efficiency, carbon reduction, EV charging, and combating food waste – from the installation of photovoltaic panels to the reduction of plastic packaging inside convenience stores.
According to Deloitte, in 2022, 64% of UK adults limited their use of single-use plastics while 48% purchased more locally produced goods. Brands like Reitan Convenience Sweden are responding to these trends and making sustainability a core part of their business.
To encourage customers to make sustainable choices, it’s crucial to make it convenient for them. Some convenience stores are even challenging the traditional notion of what a convenience store should be by dropping certain product categories, such as tobacco, to prioritize sustainability.
It’s alarming to consider the amount of food waste generated by retailers in the US and Europe. In the US, almost 16 billion pounds of food are wasted annually, which is roughly 30% of the food that enters American supermarkets. Similarly, in Europe, around 121 million tons of food are discarded at the retail level. This not only represents an enormous waste of resources but also has a significant carbon footprint due to the energy, water, and other resources required to produce, package, transport, and dispose of food.
The problem of food waste has become more pronounced as more fuel stations and convenience stores offer prepared food, fresh produce, and other perishable items. Globally, more than one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted each year, according to the WWF, which amounts to about 2.5 billion tons of food. Retailers are increasingly partnering with food waste platforms like Too Good To Go to reduce food waste by allowing customers to buy surplus food from restaurants, convenience stores, and producers. BP, Aldi, SPAR Denmark, The Co-Op, EG Group, and Aral are among the many brands working with Too Good To Go, and over 86 million meals have been saved from C-stores and supermarkets, avoiding over 216,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
Another major sustainability challenge for retailers is the issue of single-use plastic. Despite efforts by governments and private enterprises to reduce plastic waste, the majority of plastic is not recycled, and half of the world’s annual plastic production is used for single-use products. Consumer packaged goods companies are responding with innovative solutions, such as Coca-Cola’s plant-based plastic beverage bottle.
In addition to providing support for fueling and alternative energy solutions, our Passport X cloud-based retail platform enables station managers to manage their convenience store inventory, helping to ensure sustainable product sales and minimize food waste.
The fuel industry, in particular, has come under scrutiny in recent years, with people looking to business leaders to make drastic changes to their day-to-day operations in order for them to provide more accessible, eco-friendly solutions for global transportation.
Many customers demand cleaner forms of fuel and are ready to pay a premium for it.
Fuel retailers are increasingly seeking to support alternative energies such as electricity, hydrogen, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) while also aiming to transition their fuel businesses to be more environmentally sustainable. However, sustainability poses a challenge for forecourt retailers and convenience stores (C-stores) as it is not always straightforward. For example, most a C-store’s greenhouse gas emissions likely come from the products they stock, which are outside of fuel retailers’ control. Similarly, fuel has an environmental impact, but fuel retailers do not choose what cars their customers drive and must service the market to meet demand. Nonetheless, fuel retailers are exploring ways to become sustainable and reduce greenhouse gases.
Assisting in Building a Sustainable Future
Fuel retailers understand that the transition to clean energy vehicles won’t happen overnight, and that Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles will continue to be in use well beyond 2030. According to various studies, many motorists are likely to purchase their last petrol or diesel car in 2029 and run it for the next 15-20 years.
Worldwide demand for biofuels, led by Asia and America, is expected to keep growing as regulatory targets encouraging the use of oil substitutes in transportation are raised.
Fuel station owners can support their customers now while preparing for a future shift in fuel sources in two ways. Firstly, they should continue to support conventional fueled vehicles while providing options to make them more environmentally friendly. Secondly, they should start to consider investing in alternative energy solutions to meet growing demand and global sustainability targets.
Incorporating clean energy solutions such as EV chargers, hydrogen dispensers, and LNG dispensers on a forecourt raises customer awareness of available fuel options. Alternative fuel vehicles produce fewer emissions than ICE vehicles. EVs emit no carbon dioxide, CNG reduces harmful emissions, LNG produces 40% less carbon dioxide than coal and 30% less than oil, and hydrogen is clean, safe, and abundant.
Fuel retailers should be ready to embrace the new wave of consumers seeking sustainable options.
Modernizing the Pump
Pump modernization is necessary for companies to serve the growing base of alternative-powered vehicles. Sustainable fuels like biofuels and hydrogen are becoming essential, with worldwide demand expected to reach 223 million tons of oil equivalent by 2040. Retailers should promote renewable fuels to decarbonize heavy transport in the next ten years. Renewable diesel, with strong regulatory support, is becoming price competitive with traditional diesel, and hydrogen promising alternative fuel for long-distance heavy-duty trucks. Fuel retailers can also take advantage of the increasing demand for charging points by offering EV charging at their established network of stations. As the EV fleet market grows rapidly, providing high-quality end-to-end service, tailored solutions, and fleet management with site energy management capabilities will be crucial for success. Partnerships will be key, particularly in the early phases of market development. Some companies are already installing charging points outside of fueling stations, and they will need to strike advantageous agreements with utility partners to ensure uninterrupted access and strategic growth of their network.
Global Fuel Retailers are making a change
To suit new customer and society expectations, Fuel Retail conglomerate, Shell, has set a goal to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner and have already begun transforming their business to meet their target.
These changes include:
- Working to lower their carbon footprint as well as help reduce that of their customers.
- Expanding their range of low or no emission fuels such as EV charging
- Reducing, reusing, and repurposing waste in their retail operations
Customers today want to work with businesses that respect the planet and provide future-proof products and solutions that abide by these standards and vision; therefore, we make it a point to provide our customers with the sustainable technology they need to reduce costs and increase business revenues.
We are committed to the principles of sustainability and promote its importance, integrating sustainable solutions into our daily state-of-mind.
Reach out to learn more about our sustainable fuel retail technologies.