Last Wednesday UPS agreed to purchase up to 46 million gallons of renewable diesel over the course of the next three years from the energy companies Neste, Renewable Energy Group, and Solazyme.  The agreement is the centerpiece of a plan to displace 12 percent of the petroleum-based fuels in UPS’s ground fleet by 2017 – a significant next step in what is fast becoming a trend of corporate investment in biofuels and other renewable forms of energy.  Read on for more on the UPS deal and the growing trend it embodies.

UPS joins a number of other companies – FedEx, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, to name a few – that have committed in some fashion to biofuel integration and development.  It remains to be seen if this trend will continue, but nonetheless the current momentum is an unmistakable moment of growth in the biofuels industry.

Other recent biofuel partnerships of note:

  • On July 21, 2015, FedEx signed an eight year agreement with Colorado’s Red Rocks Biofuel to purchase 3 million gallons of biofuel per year for use in its air cargo planes through 2024.
  • On June 30, 2015, United Airlines unveiled a plan to invest $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, a company that turns household trash into fuel that can be blended directly with traditional jet fuels.
  • On June 3, 2015, Alaska Airlines, which in 2011 flew 75 flights using biofuels derived from cooking oil, partnered with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance to fly a test flight using 1,000 gallons of alternative biofuel made from forest residuals.
  • On September 24, 2014, Southwest Airlines signed an agreement with Red Rocks Biofuel to purchase jet fuel made from wood residues.
  • On April 16, 2014, British Airways, in partnership with Solena Fuels, announced a location for the GreenSky fuel plant which will provide BA 50,000 tons of jet fuel made from landfill waste over the course of 11 years
  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines, meanwhile, has engaged in a long-running partnership with LanzaTech, helping fund the biotech firm’s development of sustainable biofuels made from waste gases released during industrial steel production.