Gedling Borough Council in the East Midlands has become the fourth UK region to introduce an Eco Stars fleet recognition scheme.
The best practice certification initiative focuses on the environmental impact and operational efficiency of fleets, awarding a star rating for vehicle age, fuel economy and emissions levels.
Although the Eco Stars schemes, also running in Edinburgh, Mid-Devon and South Yorkshire, have so far focused on van, bus and HGV fleets, mid-Devon has recently won a grant from Defra for a feasibility study and subsequent roll-out of a scheme for taxis.
Eco Stars is free for fleets to join. Tom Parker, programme manager at Transport and Travel Research, which administers the schemes, says fleets receive an initial assessment and rating, and are then provided with a roadmap for possible improvements to their environmental performance and efficiency. They are regularly reassessed and can invite reassessment if they roll-out a new initiative.
The star rating seems to be heavily weighted towards the Euro-level of the vehicles involved. In two case studies carried out on South Yorkshire Eco Stars members Doncaster MBC and Clipper Logistics to asses the impact of the scheme, both fleets showed significant improvement through fleet renewal, with, unsurprisingly, the heavier Clipper vehicles showing the greatest emissions improvement of 50% cut of NOx and a 75% cut in particulates.
A major part of Eco Stars involves collaboration and sharing of best practice between members to cut fuel consumption.
The schemes are attracting members at a steady rate. The 18-month-old South Yorkshire scheme has 43 members and 5,200 vehicles, while Gedling signed up four fleets as launch partners.
Between them, the four UK schemes have 71 members; Parker is aiming for 100 members and 10,000 vehicles in 2012 –he says five districts “are in the pipeline”.
The original Eco Stars scheme set up by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council is now part funded by the EU, while South Yorkshire’s scheme receives money from the NHS Trust which wants to improve air quality for health reasons.
Much of the operational advice on offer may be similar to that offered by the Freight Transport Association’s Van Excellence or the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (see below), but Parker says Eco Stars is different.
“Some schemes, such as FORS, have a wide operational focus and handle compliance. Eco Stars looks only at environmental performance and efficiency,” he says.
The headline figures suggest fleets are saving £2,300 per vehicle through improved fuel efficiency although these figures envisage an operator who has not implemented any progressive steps before entering the scheme. However, fuel and emissions performance is an ongoing process.
“The scheme encourages and supports fleets to take the actions they need to get results,” says Parker.
TfL expands freight recognition project to include cars
TfL has extended its Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to include cars, in addition to vans and HGVs.
It has renamed the initiative the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme in a bid to encourage more small and medium sized businesses to sign up.
Since the launch of FORS four years ago, more than 1,000 operators, representing more than 25% of vans and lorries regularly operating in London, have registered. More than half have met the bronze, silver or gold standard.
By spring 2016, TfL hopes that half of all freight vehicles regularly operating in London will be bronze, silver or gold standard members.
Members are entitled to a number of discounts, which look to help improve performance while saving money. These include money off safety devices to help improve cycle safety.
Meanwhile, TfL’s transport commissioner has written to all London boroughs encouraging them to adopt the same procurement practices to help improve safety around lorries and vans.