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FuelBox – the success story of Harlow-based New Era Fuel’s sustainable dispensing solution

Business / Wed 22nd Nov 2023 at 10:06am

SINCE its launch in 2015, FuelBox has emerged as the benchmark for the convenient and eco-friendly distribution of various fuels. Our conversation with James Hunt, Managing Director of New Era Fuels, sheds light on the genesis of this groundbreaking product and offers insights into the trajectory of sustainable energy.

True to our name, New Era Fuels has been a pioneer since its creation in 1919, initially catering to the industrial sector with lubrication products. By the 1970s, lubricants constituted 95% of our business, while fuels represented a mere 5%. Currently, the situation has evolved, with fuels now comprising the majority, enabling us to establish a significant presence among the leading fuel distributors in the UK.

Today, New Era Fuels – which is based in River Way, Harlow – stands as a foremost fuel-centric enterprise, committed to delivering an unparalleled nationwide next-day delivery network, available 24/7, 365 days a year. With 11 depots strategically positioned across the country and an extensive network of local distributors and stockists, we ensure comprehensive national coverage.

At the turn of the century, our main business revolved around selling red diesel. Customers would arrive with their rigid 20-litre jerry cans to purchase fuel for their farm or plant machinery. The idea for FuelBox originated in 2014 during a routine delivery in Chelmsford, where our Director of Operations, Stefan O’Len, noticed several discarded plastic jerry cans along the roadside, prompting the concept of a more eco-friendly alternative. Within a brief two-week period, Stefan developed a prototype for the FuelBox, based on a UN-approved bag-in-box system – and he is holding that prototype in the picture!

Convenient and sustainable 

Convenience and sustainability form the cornerstone of FuelBox, a result of collaborative efforts with Quadpak and Fenton Packaging Solutions. Our intensive testing and subsequent full launch at the Executive Hire Show in 2015 underscored the overwhelmingly positive reception of FuelBox. Today, it stands not just as a product but as an established brand, embodying an enhanced user experience and a more environmentally responsible solution.

FuelBox owes its effectiveness to an exclusive agreement with Quadpak for fuel in bag-in-box, with support from Fenton Packaging Solutions in expanding our product range. With substantial investments in filling machinery, we now boast over 1,800 stockists across the UK.

FuelBox offers numerous benefits for plant operators, including easy handling, spill-proof dispensing, and robust protection against contamination and adverse weather conditions. Moreover, its recyclability significantly reduces plastic usage by up to 90%, minimising landfill waste by 86%. Notably, the space efficiency of 90 FuelBox bags equals that of a single traditional jerry can, resulting in substantial cost reductions for hazardous waste disposal.

The FuelBox family

The FuelBox family has evolved in response to customer demands, moving beyond its origins in red diesel to incorporate an extensive range of products, including white diesel, AdBlue®, kerosene for domestic heating, HVO, and hydraulic machinery oil. These offerings come in varying pack sizes from 10 to 20 litres.

New Era Fuels work closely with Yara International as a licensed distributor of AdBlue® and witnessing the UK’s annual AdBlue® consumption soar towards half a billion litres, we are committed to meeting this escalating demand. To provide a convenient and eco-friendly solution for both commercial and domestic customers, we proudly supply 10 and 18-litre AdBlue®BlueBoxes. 

We are excited to announce that – recognising an unmet need in the market – we are our now taking orders for our cutting-edge breakthrough, the new 500L AdBlue® BlueBox.

Compliance

Under the leadership of our Compliance Director, Ben Leworthy, New Era Fuels proudly holds the highest accreditations in the UK as a compliant fuel distributor, including esteemed risk certification. Our unwavering commitment to compliance allows us to deliver to any location, including challenges such as rail-side sites. 

Our ISO certifications across ISO9001, ISO14001, and ISO45001, along with our FORS Gold accreditation, further validate our commitment to industry-leading practices.  

Beyond FuelBox and the future of fuel

At New Era Fuels, our passion lies in championing a sustainable future. As a consultancy-oriented business, we encourage customers to explore new-generation alternatives like HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil). Although renewable fuels are not yet widely available at forecourts across the UK, we have been at the forefront of advocating renewables since 2017, well before the gradual phasing out of fossil fuels gained prominence.

HVO stands as a fossil-free solution, crafted solely from renewable materials, serving as a direct diesel replacement for vehicles and generators. It significantly reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90% and enhances air quality by lowering Nitrous Oxide levels by up to 30%. HVO is biodegradable, odourless, and contributes to an up to 85% reduction in particulate matter emissions.

New Era Fuels proudly holds the UK’s largest HVO footprint through our extensive rigid tanker depot network, with our HVO distribution surging from half a million litres in 2020 to an impressive 60 million litres this year. We lead by example, fuelling our own fleet with HVO and advocating the same for our customers.

Our success extends to vital projects, including support for filming crews during premier football games and providing fuel for generators at large infrastructure projects like HS2 and Crossrail. Notably, during the pandemic, we played a crucial role in supporting the NHS and London Ambulance Services ensuring that they never ran out of fuel. This highlights our unwavering commitment to public health and environmental welfare.

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