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TMC 2024


PepsiCo, Estes Express Earn Sustainability Pathfinder Awards

Transport Topics Presents Inaugural Awards at TMC
TT's Sustainability Pathfinder winners

Left to right: Transport Topics Managing Editor/Features Seth Clevenger; Steve Hanson, senior director of fleet operations at PepsiCo; Mike Palmer, vice president of fleet services at Estes Express; and Rick Mullininx, president and chief operating officer at Great Dane, whose company sponsored TT's Sustainability Pathfinder awards. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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NEW ORLEANS — Transport Topics has presented its inaugural Sustainability Pathfinder awards to PepsiCo Inc. and Estes Express in recognition of their efforts to curb emissions and eliminate waste in the freight transportation industry.

The new awards, sponsored by Great Dane, are intended to shine the spotlight on the many ways that fleet operators are raising the bar for freight efficiency and paving the way for a more sustainable future.

TT announced the winners March 6 at the 2024 Technology & Maintenance Council Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition.

The winner in the private carrier category, PepsiCo, and its Frito-Lay division have long been pioneers in fleet sustainability, testing and deploying alternative fuels and constantly looking for ways to boost efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

For example, PepsiCo Beverages’ bottling and distribution facility in Sacramento, Calif., has deployed a variety of battery-electric vehicles, from yard tractors and light-duty vans to heavy-duty tractors. That site was among the 10 locations that took part in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s Run on Less Electric Depot event, which gathered data to provide insights and guidance on the many challenges of electrifying a fleet of commercial vehicles, including charging infrastructure and grid capacity.

Another example is Frito-Lay’s facility in Modesto, Calif., which the company has been transforming into a template for how it will decarbonize in the future. There, PepsiCo has implemented a mix of zero- and near zero-emission technologies across a range of duty cycles, including electrification and renewable natural gas.

Sustainability Pathfinder logo

At the corporate level, PepsiCo has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 with intermediate goals along the way.

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., ranks No. 1 on the TT Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

Estes, which won the award in the for-hire carrier category, formally launched a sustainability department last year to oversee its environmental efforts.

The less-than-truckload carrier deployed its first battery-electric Class 8 tractors last year in pickup and delivery operations out of the company’s Banning, Calif., terminal. In addition, Estes operates nearly 300 electric forklifts and two electric yard trucks. More than 70 Estes trucks run on renewable natural gas derived from organic waste from dairies, landfills and wastewater treatment plants.

Estes electric trucks

Electric tractors and chargers at Estes' terminal in Banning, Calif. (Ed Tyler Photography)

At the same time, Estes is retrofitting its terminals with solar panels. The company expects the solar panel arrays, currently installed at six terminals, to offset about 1,180 metric tons of carbon emissions per year.

Estes also is among the first companies to pilot the carbon-capture devices developed by startup firm Remora. These devices can be retrofitted to a truck’s tailpipe to capture up to 80% of its carbon dioxide emissions, which can then be stored or sold to end-users such as concrete producers.

Beyond those initiatives, the LTL carrier is reducing emissions by running newer equipment and using route optimization software to limit empty miles and plan more efficient routes.

Estes, headquartered in Richmond, Va., ranks No. 14 on the TT Top 100 list of North America’s largest for-hire carriers.

As part of the award selection process, TT asked its readers to nominate trucking fleets that exemplify the trucking industry’s efforts to improve environmental sustainability. The publication’s staff then selected the winners after considering numerous worthy nominations from across the industry. 

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