Canadian Linen: Fueling Change

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Sustainability is part of a larger and greener picture for this fleet.

Earlier this year, Canadian Linen made the news when the company announced the addition of 20 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles to their fleet in Vancouver. But when it comes to the company’s environmental goals that’s just the tip of a much larger green iceberg.
“We run CNG, propane, hybrids, and pure electric vehicles,” explains Banny Allison, Fleet Manager for Canadian Linen. “Everything has its place based on our fleet, depending on the route structure. If the infrastructure were already in place, 60 to 70 percent of our routes would be covered with CNG vehicles.”
Infrastructure is the big challenge, Allison explains. “We need access to public fueling facilities because the stations are too expensive to build on our own. So we’re putting CNG vehicles into locations where public fueling is available.”
Route structures
Fueling stations are only part of the equation. Allison says it’s very important to make sure these vehicles are used on routes that best fit the fuel type.
Through a number of pilot projects, Canadian Linen has determined which technologies work best, and where. “CNG is best for large rural/suburban to rural areas, so you get the highest mileage possible,” Allison explains. “Then I would put propane probably right under there, from suburban to more rural. Hybrids do best in a city application. We run hydraulic hybrid and battery electric hybrid vehicles, and they do best in a city environment where there is a lot of stop-and-go. Battery electric vehicles, just because of the limited range, have to be near the home base—maybe 130 km at most.”
Currently, the company has two electric trucks in the Los Angeles area, with another eight on order. According to Allison, L.A. is ideal for this application simply because of the unbelievable traffic.
“They work very well in bad traffic,” he explains. “With regenerative braking we recapture some of the energy, which helps quite a bit. The technology could work well in congested cities like Toronto, but we’re a bit worried about the weather component.”
Our Canadian winters are a deterrent to the use of some alternative technologies, but not all. “We have battery hybrid and hydraulic hybrid vehicles in Toronto,” Allison adds, “and they’re performing fine.”
A culture of sustainability
Canadian Linen and their parent company, AmeriPride, have a history of sustainability. “Canadian Linen had quite a few propane trucks in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, but the technology wasn’t as good as it is today,” Allison explains. “In 2012 we started to refocus on alternative fuels. The technologies have improved greatly in recent years.”
This initiative, however, is only a small piece of a much bigger company-wide sustainability effort. “We’re doing a lot of things in our plants to be more sustainable,” explains Ben Saukko, AmeriPride’s Director of Communication. “From heat reclamation systems in our plants to using solar panels to help power our laundry facilities, this is part of a larger effort to be more sustainable, to be a leader in our industry and a role model for others.”

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