Interview: Ben Griffiths, Rye Group

By Steve Ducker25 January 2022

Rye Group director Ben Griffiths says the benefits of switching to hydrotreated vegetable oil to fuel its machines are already apparent and will continue as conventional fuels become more expensive.

Ben Griffiths Rye Group Ben Griffiths: ‘We can cost a job more accurately using HVO

Indeed, the safety, health, environment and operations director of the British demolition contractor believes that its move to using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) fuel is a factor in winning jobs.

The company, based in Bedfordshire in the south of England, recently secured three new contracts with Telford Homes – which itself was named the United Kingdom’s most sustainable housebuilder in the “Next Generation” housing benchmark report for 2020.

And Ben Griffiths says the business’s environmental ambitions have been a big part of this success.

“Our change to HVO has certainly helped with contracts we have won in recent months. We can cost a job more accurately with HVO, and eventually HVO will be cheaper as well.”

Rye announced that it was aiming for a 90% reduction in fuel emissions last year, and recently said it was on track to achieve this objective.

The company has also signed up to the Climate Pledge, which is a formal commitment to reaching net zero by 2040, or 10 years ahead of the government’s target.

The next move, says Ben, will be a full carbon audit during 2022, probably conducted by an outside company.

“We will measure it properly next year, see if we can do some telematics. We want to measure our HVO credibly, and with a benchmark we can assess this properly.”

Ben also expects more demolition companies to switch to HVO in the new year as they overcome their initial caution.

“We attended a working lunch with the NFDC (National Federation of Demolition Contractors) and the supplier New Era Fuels, where the topic was HVO.

“It’s change, isn’t it? People are wary of it. But by the end of the meeting, I think it was positive and people had their questions answered.

“A lot of people did not realise that HVO is just a drop-in replacement.”

For the wider demolition industry, Ben believes the question of HVO will be something it has to address sooner rather than later.

“As of April 2022, red diesel – the standard option for many organisations in the construction and demolition world – is going to cost substantially more, because it will no longer be subject to a favourable tax rebate. In other words, fuel is going to get a lot more expensive.

“Given that red diesel will no longer be the obvious, commercially viable choice for the industry, now is the time to reflect on whether a firm commitment needs to be made to environmentally friendly alternative fuels.

“Crucially, however, the demolition industry itself needs to take on the responsibility of making this kind of bold change. Current government interventions aren’t quite enough. As such, it is for us to update our standards and take proactive steps towards a better future for our planet.”

  • Read the full series of interviews in the January-February issue of Demolition & Recycling International, published next month
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