Public interest in sustainability invites opportunities for LPG retailers

September 24, 2019 By    

Propane retailers are uniquely positioned in the energy marketplace to take advantage of the growing public understanding and interest in sustainability.

A circular economy uses resources efficiently and minimizes waste. Photo:

A circular economy uses resources efficiently and minimizes waste. Photo:

While climate change alarmists get all of the press with their carbon tax schemes that won’t reduce carbon output, sustainability is something that can have an immediate and positive impact on propane retailers, their customers and the world in which we live.

Our brand “Clean American Energy” certainly has some patriotic value, and it came along at a time when increased North American propane production was beginning to cut down on foreign imports. But it does not adequately brand our potential role in sustainability.

Sustainability is a complex topic, and definitions can be confusing and difficult to apply to the real world. Simply put, sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the evolving needs of the future.

Often referenced as a circular economy, a major pillar of sustainability is an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. This concept is easily applied to how we run our propane businesses and how we can help our customers support sustainability by using propane as their primary energy source. Here are some simple ways you can run your propane business in a sustainable way.

Recycle – Recycling at a propane business today means much more than that barrel of scrap copper on the dock. Everything from office paper waste to scrap metals to plastics should be recycled at available facilities. Each community’s recycling efforts vary, but you should become a recycling advocate in your community and support those companies that support your recycling efforts.

Close the propane tank loop – Work toward a closed-loop program to significantly increase the refurbishing and recycling of used propane storage tanks and cylinders.

Challenge your supply chain – For example, the next time you order propane tanks, regulators or gas piping and fittings, ask questions about how much recycled material is being used in their product and what the potential is for recycling the products at the end of their useful lives. Ask if those suppliers operate with a sustainability plan and have them provide a copy. Be prepared for blank stares in the beginning.

Buy local – Buying goods and services locally can make sense when you consider the behind-the-scenes waste of sourcing outside of your community or state.

Understand your propane supply sustainability – Know the origin of your propane and how it gets to you. Add sustainability to your decision tree when determining where and from whom you source propane for your customers. The anti-fracking activists have an active and emotional imagination about the potential dangers of fracking, but from a sustainability standpoint, fracking is a game changer for the propane industry. Every barrel of propane coming from a North American fracking source is a barrel that doesn’t have to be transported from sources an ocean or two away. Considering domestic transportation, propane delivered by pipeline uses the most sustainable form of transportation after all things considered. Engage your propane suppliers in a sustainability conversation that includes transportation and reliability of supply throughout the year.

Use propane autogas – Certainly, the use of autogas in light- and medium-duty trucks are at the point where you should embrace the innovations and the resulting reduction of environmental impact.

Conserve energy – Saving energy is smart business. It is time to upgrade to high-efficiency propane space heating and water heating systems, and energy-saving lighting systems.

These are just a few easy examples of how you can embrace sustainability in your propane business and begin to market those efforts to your customers. Plot your course. You do not have to do everything at once.
Energy sustainability? Propane Can Do That.

Tom Jaenicke is vice president of propane marketing services for Warm Thoughts Communications.

Comments are currently closed.