Frito-Lay reaches for zero emissions in California, replacing diesel tech

By Kristine Sherred contact

- Last updated on GMT

Frito-Lay hopes this tech will reach all of its facilities in the US, and that it will 'act as the catalyst to accelerate adoption of alternative fuel vehicles across the industry,' according to Michael O'Connell (second from left), VP of supply chain at PepsiCo.
Frito-Lay hopes this tech will reach all of its facilities in the US, and that it will 'act as the catalyst to accelerate adoption of alternative fuel vehicles across the industry,' according to Michael O'Connell (second from left), VP of supply chain at PepsiCo.

Related tags: Frito-lay north america, Frito-lay, Pepsico, Sustainability, solar power, Electric charge, Sustainable packaging, Green, Manufacturing

The $30m Near Zero-Emission Freight Facility Project will swap diesel for zero- and near-zero emission freight at its 500k-square-foot facility in Modesto.

The snack maker told us it has undertaken similar projects at other facilities, but this one is ‘the first of its kind at this scale.’ That goes for both Frito-Lay and for parent company PepsiCo.

It also marks Frito-Lay’s first manufacturing site – which is also one of its largest in the US – to embrace alternative fuel vehicles, the company told BakeryandSnacks.

“While there has been lots of great work in this space, most of the implementation to date has been a small percentage of the total distribution location’s fleet assets,”​ a spokesperson said. “In this case, Frito-Lay is going to upgrade its entire Modesto freight assets to alternative fuel solutions, including trucks, tractors, yard tractors and box trucks.”

Tesla tractors and battery-powered forklifts in Modesto

Frito-Lay ZANZEFF VIP Event-0004_0005
One of Frito-Lay's new alternative fuel trucks. (Photo courtesy of Frito-Lay North America)

Inventory totals 75 new pieces, including 15 electric tractors with Tesla batteries, 12 lithium-ion forklifts, six Peterbilt electric box trucks, and three BYD (a battery manufacturer) electric yard tractors.

Natural gas will also factor into 38 Volvo tractors, which carry ‘renewable attributes.

Infrastructure will also transition to include a natural gas fueling station and truck charging systems, plus 2.7mw of onsite battery storage (intended to load onto the site’s rooftop solar grid to improve resiliency) and a 1mw carport with energy storage.

Employees will have access to vehicle charging stations, too.

Frito-Lay investing in green technology

Frito-Lay received incentives from California Climate Investments, a state program of cap-and-trade aimed at improving improve sustainability and, in turn, the economy and public health.

California Climate Investments

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, cap-and-trade programs can mitigate climate change​ through a two-fold process: first, by capping the amount of greenhouse gas a company can emit; and second, by allowing companies that reduce their emissions to sell their allowances on a free market.

California says its cap-and-trade program incentivizes industry to invest in clean technologies.

Michael O’Connell, VP of supply chain at PepsiCo, said this project “is indicative of our commitment to sustainable business practices that lead to innovation, increased productivity, operational excellence and business growth.”

It also plays into PepsiCo’s goal of cutting absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in the next decade.

Frito-Lay ‘continuously’ studies potential sites to improve efficiencies and implement new technology ‘where viable,’ the company told us, and Modesto had long been one of those sites pushing the envelope.

The San Joaquin Valley also maintains ‘rigorous regulatory standards.’ In addition to working with CCI, Frito-Lay invested in the regional pollution control district of San Joaquin Valley to support this initiative. It also worked with the state’s air resources board (CARB).

“Bravo to Frito-Lay for its commitment to improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as an integral part of their business model,”​ said Alexander Sherriffs, a board member of both environmental groups.

CCI, he continued, exists to put cap-and-trade dollars “back into communities to improve health, promote economic development and address climate change.” ​By joining the fight, Frito-Lay is “showing other businesses in our state and beyond how to thrive when good public health through clean air and climate solutions is a company value.”

Frito-Lay added to BakeryandSnacks, "This project’s objective is to demonstrate the operational, economic and environmental sustainability benefits of zero- and near-zero technology at freight facilities and warehouses that can be emulated throughout the state of California.”

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