Making Smart Moves: How Shippers Cut Freight Costs and Emissions

Today, more than  50 million tons of freight are on the move throughout the United States. Many products can be found onboard ships in our nation’s largest ports. Some of the heaviest cargo is moving along in rail cars, and a few of the highest value items are flying in the belly of planes.. And many of these goods are rolling along our highways in tractor-trailers. All of these items are moving under the guidance of a select group of companies know in the freight industry as shippers.

Shippers exercise significant control over the environmental footprint of logistics operations. They are responsible for many of our favorite brands of shoes, stoves and sweets. A new report released today by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Smart Moves, presents a collection of innovative strategies that shippers can use to cut freight costs and reduce environmental impact.

A few of the leading examples from the report include:

  • The Container Store utilized rail for some of its outbound moves (distribution center to retail store), and saved the company $300,000 while also reducing carbon emissions by over 40 percent;
  • Michael Kors made effective use of ocean freight in the time-sensitive world of high fashion through a time-guaranteed ocean freight service that cut emissions per move by over 90 percent and reduced freight costs by $20 per bag;
  • Hershey’s and Ferrero collaborated on an innovative distribution model that leading industry experts claim could slash costs by more than 30 percent and increase carbon efficiency by 25 percent; and
  • Kraft Foods leveraged cutting-edge software to increase the utilization of its trucks, and ultimately cut costs and emissions.

In current times of persistently high fuel costs, freight choices that are good for the environment are good for the bottom line.

The stakes are high and the need for action is urgent. All told, the global freight transportation and distribution system accounts for nearly three billion metric tons of heat-trapping carbon emissions each year. That’s equal to over 700 coal plants. Most concerning, freight transportation is rising quickly.

ExxonMobil recently reported that freight transport is “expected to rise in all regions of the world, even with significant gains in efficiency.” It projected that “global energy demand for transportation will rise by nearly 45 percent from 2010 to 2040.”  Freight transportation is the expected driver for much of this growth.

A 45 percent growth in emissions from the freight system is simply not sustainable. Rising fuel prices and road congestion further increase the need for shippers to act and improve freight efficiency.

Shippers are in a position to help lead us to a more sustainable freight future. By adopting the strategies in this report, companies can begin this journey while significantly slowing the growth in freight emissions today.

Lower freight costs, less exposure to volatile fuel prices and a leadership position on sustainability? That sounds like Smart Moves.

Smart Moves: Creative Supply Chain Strategies Are Cutting Transport Costs and Emissions