Tag Archives: sustainable freight shipping

The Future of Sustainable Shipping

The concept of making the shipping industry more environmentally friendly has been a priority for businesses for many years. During the current COVID-10 pandemic, this issue comes into the spotlight even more. Although the coronavirus has had horrible, devastating effects on the population and economy during the past few months, the impact on the environment was positive. With fewer commuters, hindered global travel and logistics, and generally decreased human activity, people have noticed a significant environmental impact. 

What is the future of sustainable shipping?

According to estimates from the CarbonBrief, the decreased demand for fuel and power can cause emissions to drop by nearly 400 million tonnes in 2020. For now, some countries admit lowered CO2 levels by as much as 40%, which is a substantial improvement in the air quality. For many, this reduction has shown that there is a positive effect in decreasing global power and fuel consumption. The lives that have been lost, unemployment, and other terrifying results of this pandemic can’t justify the environmental benefit, but now it is clear that even a small adjustment can make an impact.

Although the shipping industry isn’t the largest polluter across the transportation industry, it is still a contributor, accounting for 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Every year, more and more transportation companies adopt technology to reduce fuel consumption, optimize the usage of resources, and make sustainability their priority. At this point, it is no longer an option for global companies to be unconcerned with environmental issues. 

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2020, the goal is to cut international greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2050. So, the shipping industry has still a long way to go, although some progress is already happening. With the current situation, businesses have witnessed a drastic fall in oil prices and how vulnerable and fragile the global markets actually are. 

The thing about business sustainability, especially in the shipping industry, is that companies care not just about the environment or social responsibility, but also about their profit. Sustainability has to be profitable for those who adopt it, otherwise it won’t work on the global level. And these solutions exist, when you search for proper tools that can be both profitable and useful for the environment. The future of sustainable shipping is about balance, awareness, and action. 

4 Tips to become an Eco-Friendly Shipper

The circulation of goods is a vital part of our lives, even if we don’t realize it. If your job is logistics-related – you know how much freight is moving across the globe on a daily basis. The environmental impact cannot be underestimated. Getting rid of emissions and pollution entirely will take some time and technological break-through. To support the green initiative, you can become an eco-friendly shipper.

However, shippers can do small things to contribute to the greener transportation industry.

How can you become an eco-friendly shipper?

Use recycled products

eco-friendly shipper

If you are using boxes – target environmentally friendly suppliers. There are a variety of certifications for the eco-friendly packaging. It will usually indicate the recycled content and ensure that no chemicals (e.g.. ink) which might be harmful to the environment have been used.

One setback to this approach is the slight increase in cost. Certified eco-friendly boxes tend to be about 1/3 more expensive than the uncertified ones. This boils down to a company’s core values – save the environment or save a few bucks?

Use the space efficiently

Efficiency is key. Make sure to pack the product as efficiently as possible.

This will save the materials and free up more room on the truck or any other mode of transportation giving you an opportunity to ship more in one go. If possible, combining as much product as possible into one load is worth considering from both eco-friendly and cost-efficient perspectives.

Consider alternative transportation modes

There is no perfect transportation mode at this point, but if multiple shippers switch to a greener mode of transportation, even on just a few loads, it will make a difference on a bigger scale.

Rail is one option to keep in mind – we have covered a few reasons to consider rail for your shipping in one of the previous loads. Not every load is suitable for rail, but for certain loads, it will be beneficial not only from the eco-friendly shipper perspective.

Ensure an efficient supply chain

Again, efficiency is key. Running your supply chain efficiency is one of the critical contributing factors.

Making the most out of each move and managing your reverse logistics properly will not only reduce your environmental impact but will also cut your costs and boost your service level.

These tips are not the end all be all for green transportation, but every action to reduce the environmental impact helps. If even a small amount of companies make these small adjustments, the joint effort will make a difference.

Continue reading: 5 Ways Shippers are Affected by Green Transportation Regulation, The EPSs Green Transportation Initiative 

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5 Effects of Green Shipping Regulations

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks move about 70% of America’s freight. These vehicles make up about 5% of traffic and contribute 20% ofgreen-sustainability.jpg greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and oil consumption in the transportation sector. This makes trucking firms a prime target for green initiatives. In the past few years, the government has created regulations to reduce GHG emissions and support green shipping.

High-Level Regulations

In 2015, the EPA and the NHTSA released an emissions and fuel consumption reduction plan in response to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. This plan consists of 2 phases.

Phase 1 targets truck engines and emissions in model years 2014 to 2018. This part of the program has been a success, cutting carbon emissions and reducing petroleum use. Phase 2 takes effect beginning with the model year 2021 (2018 for trailers) until the model year 2027 trucks and expands the plan’s scope to include trailers and glider vehicles.

Phase 2 is estimated to reduce GHG emissions by 1 billion metric tons, save 75 billion gallons of fuel and save vehicle owners $170 billion over the vehicle’s lifetime. Whether you believe these numbers to be optimistic or not, shippers need to pay attention to these regulations as they will have a profound impact on the transportation industry.

Regulations that impact trucking companies will inevitably impact shippers’ transportation costs, operations, and strategy.

Here are 5 reasons why shippers should pay attention to GHG trucking regulations:

Fuel Costs

Fuel comprises a major portion of operating costs for trucking companies. The EPA estimates the costs of Phase 2 vehicles, due to their improved fuel economy, will be recouped by vehicle-owners within two years. This means smaller, lower risk investments and big fuel savings for trucking companies. Improved fuel economy means reduced transportation spend for shippers.

Carbon Taxes

New, fuel-efficient vehicles will emit less GHGs than current vehicles, which will lead to further savings for carriers and for shippers. Carbon taxes are already being implemented in most major countries as well as in parts of the U.S. They are slowly gaining popularity for their effectiveness. Consequently, the entire fuel-intensive trucking industry will be taxed for carbon output in the near future. Presumably, phase 2 trucks will reduce emissions and help shippers avoid inflated transportation costs.

Freight Flow

Fuel-efficient vehicles and aerodynamic trailers stop less for fuel, which increases the speed of transport. Also, these vehicles are more reliable than existing equipment, which means fewer break-downs, service requirements and overall disruptions for carriers. Shippers will get their freight moving faster and more reliably. Otherwise, if new equipment investment proves to be a heavy burden for carriers, or if they’re hit unpredictably hard by carbon taxes – rail transport would become much more common because it is typically less expensive and more fuel efficient.

Equipment Investments

Phase 1 and Phase 2 significantly impact the timing of equipment investments for carriers. Whether they are financially ready to invest or not, they have to buy new trucks and trailers to meet government standards or face harsh consequences. The investment in Phase 2 vehicles could potentially provide great benefits. However, the investment itself could cause undue strain on profit margins for trucking companies. It’s impossible to tell what economic conditions will be like. So, carriers could feel the need to raise costs to keep profits steady, which would lead to higher costs for shippers.

Consumer Approval

Demanding consumers want their products fast, cheap and they want to receive them in a responsible way. Sustainability in the supply chain is important for consumer approval. As a shipper, you hold responsibility for being a high emitter of carbon and consumer of fuel. Approval from the end consumer can greatly affect the bottom line.

The potential benefits of the EPA and NHTSA’s Phase 2 green shipping regulations are undeniable. However, the benefits won’t be immediate, and carriers will have to take a financial leap to meet the standards. Ultimately, the cost savings and environmental benefits should quickly outweigh the downsides of the regulations. But, either way, shippers will feel trucking regulations too. Finally, green shipping definitely has a future.

Keep reading: Market Update: 2016 – 2017 Trucking Regulations May Aggravate Economic Trends.

3PLs Drive Sustainable Supply Chain Solutions

Environmentally-friendly business processes are good for the bottom line and the ecosystem. While most companies have stepped up to keep customers educated on their green initiatives, many have yet to expand those efforts throughout the supply chain. Using a 3PL for supply chain management can be very beneficial to companies.

The state of sustainable transportation
3pl for supply chain

More than 3,700 companies participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an independent global system for companies to measure, disclose, manage and share climate and water information and sustainable initiatives. According to a recent CDP report, 43% of respondents say they have achieved year-on-year emissions reductions, but only 28% of their suppliers can say the same.

Why use 3PL for supply chain management sustainability?

Transportation and logistics companies now focus on sustainability more than ever. A gas-guzzling, emission-heavy industry like transportation is being held responsible for its environmental impact. 3PLs are responding to the need for sustainability by assisting companies in incorporating green initiatives into their everyday processes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as much as 75% of all emissions come from logistics processes. Transportation plays a large role in this figure. When it comes to applying a green supply chain, benefits are seen not only in the environment but in operations too.

How does a 3PL help boost sustainability?

Through visibility derived from TMS data. With access to advanced reports, shippers are able to see where the most environmentally-harmful processes are located within the supply chain.

Here are 3 ways a 3PL uses visibility to drive sustainability in your supply chain:

  • Technology Integration
    A 3PL integrates technology with emissions measurement and management processes to track emissions throughout all transportation functions. Shippers receive sustainability reports that include fuel efficiency and/or emission rates.
  • Data-Driven Performance Optimization
    When a 3PL has access to your transportation data, they can produce better results in sustainability. For example, if a 3PL has mode and route data, they can consolidate shipments or employ intermodal services to improve overall efficiency while reducing emissions.
  • Maintaining Compliance
    A 3PL monitors environmental performance to ensure improvement, but also to ensure compliance. Rules on emissions change based on locations and are becoming stricter. 3PL technology gives shippers insight on differing requirements and makes sure you’re in compliance before a shipment leaves the warehouse.


3PLs are most effective at implementing sustainability initiatives when working on a long-term contract with a shipper. This is because long-term success can be prioritized over short-term profit.

More companies are evaluating their supply chain operations and costs and assessing alternative production options. Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO pointed out, “Sustainable growth will be the only acceptable model of growth in the future.”

Learn more about our Outsourced Transportation Management services! 

What to Read Next:

The EPAs Green Transportation Initiative

green transportationThe SmartWay Transport Partnership, launched in 2004, is an innovative green transportation initiative between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry, designed to reduce greenhouse gases, non-renewable resource consumption, and transportation costs.

The program is an initiative to voluntarily reduce environmental impacts from freight transportation. Participating companies, with the help of SmartWay, use EPA-tested tools to assess their current freight operations and identify technologies and strategies to reduce their carbon emissions.

What does the SmartWay do?

SmartWay partners demonstrate to customers, clients, and investors that they are taking responsibility for their emissions. Also, they are committed to corporate responsibility, sustainable business practices and reducing their carbon footprint.

Since 2004, SmartWay Transport Partners have:

  • Saved $16.8 billion dollars in fuel costs
  • Saved 120.7 million barrels of oil (the equivalent of taking over 10 million cars off the road for an entire year)
  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 51.6 million metric tons
  • Reduced NOx emissions by 738,000 tons
  • Eliminated 37,000 tons of particulate matter

Carriers, shippers and 3PLs have a lot to gain from joining the SmartWay Partnership.  Participants not only reduce their environmental impact but save money on transportation while doing so.  Additionally, program-qualified tractor trailers can save between 2,000 and 4,000 gallons of diesel per year.

How can you support green transportation initiatives?

Buyers and consumers are taking environmental impact into consideration when purchasing goods.  People notice when a company starts to get serious about “Green” initiatives, especially in a pollution-heavy industry like transportation.  A company that reduces its carbon footprint shows that they care about the community they are involved in and will take great lengths to satisfy customer desires.

PLS contributes to SmartWay’s goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and non-renewable resource consumption. Also, we accomplish this goal by working directly with our freight carriers to consistently improve their environmental performance.

We believe it is our social responsibility to help reduce transportation pollution by initiating conscientious practices with our business partners through green transportation. Finally, it is our goal every day to help our customers achieve the most cost and fuel effective methods for moving their products.

Continue Reading, “Supply Chain Disruption – 3 Future Solutions”

Sustainable Freight Shipping

sustainable freight shippingWould you be willing to pay 5% higher prices for products ordered online if they are shipped sustainably?

A recent survey titled “Need for Green or Need for Speed” Survey conducted by the consulting firm West Monroe Partners revealed that 54% of e-commerce consumers are willing to pay the extra money.

The study also revealed that consumers were not aware that sustainable freight shipping options were available to them. This study made me think not only about how I personally have my e-commerce products shipped but on a larger scale, how the businesses that I frequently do business with are doing their part to be more environmentally friendly.

How Does Sustainable Freight Shipping Work?

Large and small trucking companies, rail carriers, logistics companies, commercial manufacturers, retailers, and other federal and state agencies can partner with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their SmartWay Partnership program. This program is a public-private initiative designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.

The EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership is a government and industry collaboration to voluntarily achieve improved fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impacts from freight transport. Participating companies benchmark their current freight operations; identify technologies and strategies to reduce their carbon emissions, track emissions reductions and project future improvement. SmartWay partners demonstrate to customers, clients, and investors that they are taking responsibility for the emissions associated with goods movement, are committed to corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices and are reducing their carbon footprint.

PLS and Sustainable Freight Shipping

PLS Logistics Services does our part in contributing to the SmartWay Partnership’s goal of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and air-polluting particle matter. This goal is accomplished by working directly with our freight carriers to consistently improve their environmental performance.

PLS is committed to helping the SmartWay Transport Partnership achieve this goal. We believe it is our social responsibility to help reduce transportation pollution by initiating conscientious practices with our freight carriers. It is our goal every day to help our customers achieve the most cost and fuel effective methods for moving their products.

There are many ways that consumers and business alike can be more environmentally-friendly and a good start is to work with companies that are part of the SmartWay program.


Interesting facts about the Transport Partnership:

  • Over 3,000 partners
  • $16.8 billion dollars in fuel costs saved
  • Save 120.7 million barrels of oil (the equivalent of taking over 10 million cars off the road for an entire year).
  • 51.6 million metric tons of CO2 reductions
  • 738,000 tons of NOx reductions
  • 37,000 tons of PM reductions

(These facts were reported by the SmartWay Highlights document, dated February 2013, and listed on the SmartWay’s website).


SmartWay is more than the Transport Partnership described above, it consists of three additional components:

  • SmartWay Technology Program: A testing, verification and designation program to help freight companies identify equipment, technologies, and strategies that save fuel and lower emissions.
  • SmartWay Vehicles: A program that ranks light-duty cars and small trucks and identifies superior environmental performers with the SmartWay logo.
  • SmartWay International Interests: Guidance and resources for countries seeking to develop freight sustainability programs modeled after SmartWay.



To learn more about SmartWay Partnership Program, visit http://www.epa.gov/smartway/

To read more of the “Need for Green or Need for Speed” survey, visit: http://www.westmonroepartners.com/en/insights/white-papers/need-for-green-survey