Precast concrete firm switches to vegetable fat in bid to cut CO2

A Milbank Concrete Products worker at its Colchester site

A prestressed concrete manufacturing machine now run on HVO biofuel inside Milbank manufacturing facility in Colchester - Credit: John Zammit

A north Essex precast concrete company is powering its operations with vegetable oil in a bid to cut its CO2 emissions.

Colchester-based Milbank Concrete Products is hoping that other firms will follow its lead after it switched to using hydro-treated vegetable oil (HVO).

It is now using the more environmentally friendly biofuel alternative to diesel in all of its production machinery including fork trucks, loading shovels, shunters, dumpers, cherry pickers and prestressed concrete manufacturing machines.

This could cut its CO2 emissions from the vehicles by up to 90%, the business believes.

Precast concrete manufacture is a big carbon emitter, says the firm, with the use of cement the next biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after coal-fire electricity with one tonne of CO2 reportedly emitted for every tonne of cement.

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The company has already made strides towards its goal of achieving carbon neutral status by introducing a wood pellet fuelled biomass boiler and electric vehicle charging points.

Trials showed greenhouse gas emissions produced by the company’s machinery reduced by up to 90% by using the vegetable oil alternative. Those working the machines also noticed a clear improvement in the exhaust fumes, it added. 

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The family-run business, which dates back to the 1820s, burns through a colossal 75,000 litres of diesel every year its Essex-based manufacturing facilities – all of which is being switched to the green biofuel alternative.

Chairman Sean Milbank said: “We believe that as custodians of this type of business, we have a responsibility and duty to invest in technologies and processes to reduce our impact on the environment and hopefully encourage our customers, suppliers and competitors to follow suit.”

HVO is synthesised from waste fats and vegetable oils and can be stored for up to 10 years.

The company is encouraging companies wanting to follow its lead to get in touch with it at

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