Sustainability in the Logistics and Shipping Industries

July 1, 2016 5:49 am Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s no secret that the impact of modern transportation is a huge concern when it comes to the wellbeing of the environment. Therefore, making an effort to reduce carbon emissions should be a priority for any trucking company in Minnesota. First, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the concerns, and then to consider what can be done to alleviate those concerns.

What are the environmental concerns of trucking?

Trucking has the second highest carbon emissions of all the shipping modes of transportation. More specifically, the harmful effects it has on the environment include, but are not limited to:

  • The use of fossil fuels
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Water/soil contamination from spills
  • Noise and congestion

Freight of all types accounts for 16 percent of all corporate greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Currently, 15.5 million commercial trucks occupy U.S. roads, with 2 million of them being tractor trailers. It’s safe to assume trucks are a great contributor to those harmful gases.

What is the trucking industry doing?

Decades ago, truckers were told to transport cargo as fast as they could while puffing out as much black smoke as they could. Fortunately, the industry attitude has changed, offering innovative solutions to reduce trucking’s carbon footprint. These solutions include:

  • Aerodynamic tractors and trailers: The National Academy of Sciences found that roof fairings on tractors can reduce fuel usage by 7 to 10 percent, while side fairings on trailers can reduce consumption by 3 to 7 percent.
  • Newly designed tires: Tire rolling resistance accounts for about 30 percent of the energy used by the truck. Low rolling resistance tires and single-wide tires, as well as tire pressure systems, can help the truck travel more efficiently.
  • High-tech engines: Along with cleaner burning engines, technology has also led to the advent of “smart” engines, which can adjust speeds based on terrain. Other technologies that make engines more efficient include turbocharging and improved driveline efficiency.

What can trucking companies do to reduce their carbon footprint?

Aside from using bio-diesel along with more efficient trucks, trucking companies in Minnesota can implement other green practices in other areas of the business, such as using recycled paper goods and packaging and installing solar panels on their buildings and warehouses.

Another option is training drivers to become more conscious of how their driving practices affect fuel efficiency. Simply slowing down can save fuel. In addition, drivers can cut fuel usage by:

  • Using cruise control
  • Operating in top gear for the majority of the trip
  • Minimizing idling
  • Avoid sudden braking and acceleration as much as possible

How do green practices affect costs?

A major concern with transitioning to sustainable practices is how they will affect costs. However, many immediate sustainable practices cost very little and will actually cut costs for a trucking company in Minnesota. Best driver practices, as mentioned above, is one example of a cost-efficient method of reducing carbon emissions. Investing in new, greener trucks is a large upfront investment, but over time will pay for itself by dramatically cutting fuel costs. A trucking company in Minnesota is not wrong in being concerned about costs to making environmentally friendlier improvements—however, the price of continuing as we have is perhaps even higher.

To learn more about how trucking and logistics companies are working to reduce harmful effects to the environment through sustainable practices, contact K-Way Express, Inc. today.

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