Conor Boyle, Regional Director of Lidl Northern Ireland and Ashley McCulla, Chairman of McCulla (Ireland) Ltd

Lidl becomes first retailer in UK and Ireland to power its delivery trucks with bio-methane generated by in-store food waste in major partnership with McCulla Ireland.

The new fleet of eight bio-methane powered trucks marks the first significant business integration between the transport and retail sector in Northern Ireland and represents a major step forward for Northern Ireland in its move to slash carbon emissions.

In the coming weeks, using food waste collected from all 41 Lidl Northern Ireland stores, McCulla will start to create fully renewable bio-methane gas at its anaerobic digester (AD) plant in Lisburn to power a sustainable, next generation transport operation which then delivers produce to Lidl stores across Northern Ireland every day.

The new Iveco S-WAY 4×2 trucks, supplied by NI Trucks, will deliver improved efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions on retail deliveries by up to 93% when operating on bio-methane.

Conor Boyle, Regional Director of Lidl Northern Ireland said:

“This partnership with McCulla underlines our commitment to developing sustainable and innovative solutions which create real impact in every area of our business. From using renewable electricity to power our stores to advancing our Plastic Pledge and introducing numerous in-store initiatives to reduce waste, Lidl Northern Ireland is leading the way.

We’re thrilled to now be the first supermarket retailer to successfully integrate the first waste-to-energy sustainable transport model. McCulla’s fleet covers more than 2,300 road miles per day, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of fresh and chilled foods to more than 300,000 weekly customers across our regional store network. The introduction of this new ‘green fleet’ operating on fully renewable biomethane as its primary fuel source will save more than 93% in carbon emissions due per bio-methane truck.

We’re proud to work alongside McCulla to pave the way for the sector and for Northern Ireland in driving a cleaner, greener economy through responsible business practice.”

With more than 50 years’ experience in the haulage industry, McCulla is one of the leading providers of ambient, chilled and frozen logistics solutions throughout the UK and Ireland and has been working with Lidl Northern Ireland for the last 5 years. Remaining family-owned and operating from Lisburn and Dublin, McCulla employs 235 staff across a variety of roles, the most recent being employed to manage the company’s new customs clearance division.

Ashley McCulla, Chairman of McCulla, said:

“Since 2017 we have been producing all of our own electricity from an anaerobic digester (AD) plant at our site in Lisburn but our ultimate goal was always to use energy produced by the AD plant to power our logistics fleet as well. Working with Lidl Northern Ireland, we’ve delivered on that ambition and we’re honoured to be part of a real first for the industry, and for Northern Ireland.

For many retailers dedicated to decarbonisation, transport and logistics can be challenging. However, with our expertise and experience and dedicated partnership with Lidl Northern Ireland, this milestone initiative will deliver major environmental benefits for years to come.

Working with a likeminded and forward-thinking partner like Lidl Northern Ireland has been key in the successful delivery of this project. The circular economy nature of the partnership relies on both organisations being fully committed to integrating sustainable new business practices. After months/years of planning and preparation, we’re proud to see our new green fleet finally roll out across the region.”

Commenting on the announcement, Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said:

“I very much welcome the announcement by Lidl and McCulla Transport today which is another tangible step in Northern Ireland leadership in decarbonising our energy system, in this instance in the ground-breaking displacement of fossil fuel in our transport sector. It is also a concrete example of the circular economy in action, which is an important part of our green economic recovery.”  

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots welcomed the announcement:

“I am absolutely delighted to see the introduction of Northern Ireland’s first green logistics fleet by one of our biggest supermarket retailers. Low emissions transport has been a long-term goal for many businesses and its widespread adoption is a key goal in helping us reach our goals for tackling climate change.

Today’s announcement demonstrates how industries can work together cohesively to deliver practical solutions for businesses, consumers and communities and I applaud McCulla and Lidl Northern Ireland for their work in realising this ambition. Achieving emissions reductions means we must work collectively, and I’m delighted to see responsible businesses stepping up to the challenge.  This is good for our climate, will create green jobs and will benefit our environment.”

The introduction of the new green transport fleet is the latest move by the retailer in delivering on its dedicated sustainability commitments as part of its overarching corporate social responsibility framework ‘A Better Tomorrow’.

In December 2020, Lidl Northern Ireland received Silver level CORE accreditation through Business in the Community – a prestigious accreditation in recognition of its commitment to doing business in a way that is better for employees, the planet and communities.

Lidl Northern Ireland was also announced as a climate champion and the retail sponsors of the Business in the Community Northern Ireland Climate Pledge. By signing this, Lidl Northern Ireland will be one of the first companies in Northern Ireland to commit to reporting GHG emissions, reviewing progress towards targets and implementing a strategy to meet sustainability targets.

The retailer was also awarded ‘Green Company of the Year’ at the 2019 Business Eye Awards, and has previously been awarded the coveted ‘Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility’ at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards, retained the award for Excellence in Environment and won the Excellence in Community.

McCulla Ireland has also received a number of accolades in recent years, with recognition at five separate industry events for its commitment to environmental protection, including the prestigious 2019 Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Awards for Excellence.  Ashley McCulla has also been commended as Family Business Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors Awards and was a finalist in the 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition. The company also won the Entrepreneurial Spirit award at the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards in 2019.

For more information on Lidl Northern Ireland’s commitment to sustainability visit A Better Tomorrow.