Sustainable Sourcing Part II: Choose Green Transportation Providers

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Part I of our sustainability series looked at sustainable sourcing and supplier accountability. Part II considers how freight moves through the supply chain and ways shippers can offset negative effects from transportation choices.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Transportation is an undeniable source of air pollution and climate change today. Devouring more than two-thirds of the world’s petroleum-based fuel, transportation accounts for one-third of all harmful emissions, including carbon. Of that, the freight sector is the fastest growing culprit, producing a quarter of these emissions worldwide. What are the environmental impacts of harmful emissions? Air pollutants are responsible for many adverse effects, including smog, acid rain, death of forests, climate change, and reduced atmospheric visibility.

In addition to sustainable sourcing, adopting sustainable transportation practices can advance your company’s revenue goals, improve costs, and help address growing climate change concerns around the world (EPA.gov).

4 Ways to Reduce Climate Impacts from Freight

Here are a few ways to lessen negative impacts when choosing your shipping transportation options:

  1. Consider Intermodal Instead of Truckload. Trucking is six times more carbon intensive than rail. That fact along with cost savings can make intermodal an attractive option when available. Through a project with EDF Climate Corps, Ocean Spray reduced its carbon emissions by first identifying the shipping lanes that contributed the most emissions, and then selecting the lanes that would work well for intermodal based on route length and other factors. The result? A whopping 65 percent reduction in emissions and 40 percent reduction in costs (Sustainable Brands).  
  1. Require Green Practices from Carriers. Choosing carriers that observe green practices goes a long way toward reducing freight emissions, and there are many resources available to help them get started. The EPA’s SmartWay program helps member carriers obtain clean-burning equipment, ranks carrier performance on a partner list, and helps shippers set purchasing preferences. The Business for Social Responsibility non-profit (BSR) collaborates with members on projects such as the Sustainable Fuel Buyers’ Principles to accelerate progress in low-carbon fuel and technologies. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) also recently launched a program called Run on Less to test fuel-saving technologies, driver behaviors, and other aspects of freight transportation efficiency at www.runonless.com (CCJ).       
  1. Seek Out Co-Loading Opportunities. Co-loading is like ride sharing for freight. By sharing shipping assets with other companies, truck utilization is optimized and savings can be significant. In a pilot project, Colgate and Kimberly-Clark co-loaded freight for the same customer, each making better use of excess capacity, improving inventory and out-of-stocks, and reducing total trips and emissions (Sustainable Brands).
  1. Look for Backhaul Opportunities via Private Fleets. Working with a 3PL to find suitable backhaul partners leverages idle capacity while reducing unnecessary emissions.

Sustainable Transportation and Freight

Responsible companies take the environment and improvement efforts seriously, incorporating sustainable practices into every aspect of their supply chain, choosing sustainable suppliers and freight transportation partners, and more. Certainly, rewards come in the form of increased revenues, lower costs, and greater customer loyalty. But more than that, green practices mitigate carbon and other toxic emissions from fuel consumption and have the potential to redefine the freight transportation industry as leaders in the fight against climate change and responsible stewards of the fragile environment.

For more information about sustainable freight practices, including co-loading and backhaul partnerships, contact LoadDelivered today.

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