Royal Mail is replacing diesel fuel with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in some of its truck fleet as a renewable alternative. HVO is a biofuel that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% and does not require any modifications to engines or fuelling infrastructure.


Royal Mail’s Sheffield mail centre, Midlands ‘super hub,’ and Manchester vehicle operating centre are the first locations to transition to HVO, with four more sites to follow in the coming months. The selection of these locations is based on the significant volumes of truck movements for major customers.

By using HVO at these sites, Royal Mail estimates it will save a total of 2.1 million litres of diesel consumption this year. Rob Fowler, fleet director at Royal Mail, stated that while the company has made progress in decarbonising its operation with electric vehicles, alternatives for HGVs such as electric and hydrogen are still in development and not commercially viable at scale.

Therefore, HVO is seen as a transitional fuel to decarbonise the HGV fleet until low-emission alternatives become more accessible. As part of its Steps to Zero plan, Royal Mail aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and reduce average emissions per parcel. The company plans to increase HVO deployment across its distribution fleet network in the coming years, with the goal of reducing direct emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes of CO2.

Certas Energy will support Royal Mail in the initial deployment of HVO for the first year. Royal Mail’s adoption of HVO follows its recent acquisition of the 5,000th electric van and the use of over 50 EVs at the Sheffield City Delivery Office for delivery and collection functions.