WILKES BARRE, PA - Poland Spring has reduced its truck fleet emissions by cutting idling time by 70 percent from 2007 to 2009, reducing top speeds by two miles per hour, and using non-food-based biofuels, according to Environmental Defense Fund.

Cutting idling time has reduced the fleet's fuel consumption by 8,000 gallons and greenhouse gas emissions by about 77 tons per year, as well as saving the company thousands of dollars a year.

Chris McKenna, fleet manager for Poland Spring which is now owned by Nestle, said the high cost of fuel was the initial driving factor for greening the fleet. "What got us started was $5 a gallon fuel," he said. However, even as gasoline and diesel prices have fallen, Poland Spring has intensified its efforts to improve the fuel economy and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its fleet.

Early in 2008, the company turned its focus on idling time. Poland Spring had previously installed onboard computers made by Cadec Global in its trucks but they were used only as electronic log books, so the company could track driver performance. However, McKenna later became aware of the program's ability to track idling time. In doing so, he discovered trucks were idling for as much as 1,400 hours per month during the winter months.

To see which of the company's 65 drivers were racking up the most idling time, McKenna put together a ranking. "All we did was talk to them about it, and put a list up in the break room," he said. "Human nature-no one wants to be at the bottom of the list." Drivers were motivated to improve idling even more with a fuel card incentive that could be used for personal cars.

As a result of these incentives, idling dropped dramatically from 1,400 hours in February 2007 to 1,000 hours in February 2008, to just 380 hours in February 2009.

"We didn't have to come up with elaborate rules," McKenna said. "We just made suggestions and asked them to use their own best judgment.

Poland Spring has also lowered its top speed for trucks from 66 to 64 miles per hour and is mapping out optimum routes and mileage to ensure drives are as efficient as possible.

With three bottling facilities in Maine and a filling center in Massachusetts, Poland Spring operates 36 tractor-trailers and 75 tanker trailers, which hold 8,400 gallons each.