April 06, 2011

U.S. Foodservice Acquires Waste Vegetable Oil Processing Company to Reduce Environmental Impact of Trucking Fleet

U.S. Foodservice, one of America's leading foodservice distributors, has purchased the assets of WVO Industries of Bluffton, S.C. WVO collects and removes water, food particles and other impurities from waste vegetable oil then ships the bio feedstock to a processing company that produces an 80/20 diesel/biodiesel blend known as B20 that will be used to fuel hundreds of food delivery trucks at the U.S. Foodservice-Columbia Division in Lexington, S.C. The use of biodiesel made from cooking oil reduces lifecycle carbon emissions by 80 percent over carbon-based diesel, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Foodservice has been the exclusive collection agent for WVO since 2009, providing it with waste cooking oil from restaurant deep fryers. The waste vegetable oil is collected in specially designed, sealed cans that are convenient and easy for restaurants to use. The oil collection trucks are separate and distinct from U.S. Foodservice food delivery trucks to ensure the absolute quality and safety of food transported to customers. Outbound food never comes in contact with inbound waste vegetable oil. 

"The purchase of WVO will establish U.S. Foodservice as an industry leader in fleet sustainability," said Durwood Owens, division president, U.S. Foodservice-Columbia. "We're also helping customers achieve their sustainability goals by offering an easy, reliable way for them to recycle their waste cooking oil instead of sending it to landfills."

U.S. Foodservice-Columbia will relocate the WVO assets to a new "tipping station" at the Lexington distribution center to store waste oil for processing and blending into biofuel. The tipping station will be operational by late 2011, and be able to convert 5 million pounds of waste oil into 400,000 gallons of bio feedstock each year. The division plans to use approximately 200,000 gallons of converted waste vegetable oil for biodiesel annually, which would allow the remaining gallons to be made available elsewhere in the company or as a supply source for outside companies.

"We expect to duplicate the success of the Columbia biodiesel operation at other U.S. Foodservice divisions to offer customers nationwide an opportunity to contribute to the sustainability of our environment by reducing dependence on petroleum and cutting greenhouse gas emissions," said Michael Frank, Vice President of Operations Excellence, U.S. Foodservice.

A member of the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co Green Portfolio Program, U.S. Foodservice has improved its sustainability profile since 2007. By improving fleet efficiency by 5 percent and increasing distribution center energy efficiency by 15 percent between 2007 and 2009, U.S. Foodservice avoided 101,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking more than 8,000 cars off of the road and taking more than 8,600 homes off the electrical grid.

"Today's announcement is another innovative step to continue to reduce the environmental impact of the U.S. Foodservice fleet," said Tom Murray, Environmental Defense Fund. "By becoming actively engaged in the production and use of biodiesel from waste oil, U.S. Foodservice is improving efficiency across its value chain and helping pave the way for lower carbon fuels."

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