Fuel economy is a hot-button issue when it comes to green initiatives, and some bakeries, such as Alpha Baking, Chicago, are turning toward alternative fuels for both sustainability and efficiency. In April 2013, the bakery launched a fleet of 22 step vans that run on liquid propane. The fleet, based in Aurora, Ill., and the nation’s only Ford/Roush propane-powered step vans, will create about 2 million fewer lbs of carbon dioxide over the vehicles’ lifetimes, said Bob McGuire, director of logistics for Alpha Baking Co. and chair of the Logistics Committee for the American Bakers Association.

“Overall, this first year has been a success,” Mr. McGuire said. “For local delivery trucks, propane-fueled distribution vehicles is a perfect application, and the CNG/LNG application for the class 8 vehicles is an efficient, clean-energy, sustainable type of transportation model.”

The company soon will begin testing other vehicles to expand the application into other states.

In Aurora, the company operates a private propane station, which increases efficiency as well as cost savings because the company can negotiate a fixed rate on its propane.

“The beauty of propane autogas is that it’s a domestic source of energy; it’s not a ground contaminant, and it’s cheaper and easier to install than a gasoline or diesel station,” said Todd Mouw, vice-president of sales and marketing for Roush CleanTech, Livonia, Mich. “In many cases, propane companies will install the infrastructure for a business like Alpha Baking for very little cost.”