A GROWING West Country business has put the environment at the heart of its fleet policy with a pledge to run its vehicles on used cooking oil.
Burts Potato Chips uses 2,000 litres of cooking oil a week producing speciality crisps for distribution throughout Europe, oil it would ordinarily sell on to the pet food industry. But instead of making money from the oil, it is being refined and used in place of diesel on its Mercedes-Benz van fleet.
Plymouth-based Bio-Fuels has joined forces with the company to refine the oil, before selling it back to the crisp firm. Bio-fuel is a substitute for diesel made from reprocessed organic oils and fats. Makers claim it reduces the emission of toxic materials and heavy metals into the environment and only creates carbon dioxide which is absorbed by plants, reducing the levels of the gas in the atmosphere.
Jonty White, owner of Burts, which operates three Mercedes-Benz vans, said: 'Unfortunately, we can't run two of our vans on bio-fuel as they are under warranty and it would be invalidated. However, when the warranty ends, we will be changing. It is costing us more to run on cooking oil, because we used to sell it, but this is part of our commitment to helping the environment.
'There is some loss of fuel economy and you can smell cooking oil from the exhaust, but in a way that is better. When the van goes past, people say they really can smell the crisps.'
On average, the vehicles cover an estimated 60,000 miles a year and the tiny bio-diesel refuelling network means diesel has to be used on long runs.
However, White is determined to continue with the green fuel scheme.
He bought the business in 2001 with business partner Nick Hurst, boosting turnover from £500,000 to £1.5 million in the first year.
The Government is encouraging the use of bio-diesel with a 20p per litre fuel duty discount below the cost of ordinary petrol or diesel.