Corporations aren't paying enough attention to the massive global impact of their carbon emissions from transporting freight — yet there are simple steps they can take to reduce their shipping footprints.
Last month, EDF released the first in a series of case studies intended to draw attention to the significant potential for emission improvements and cost reductions from this sector.
Freight transportation is a small component of the overall lifecycle environmental impact for most products. For example, it’s less than 5 percent for a pair of Timberland shoes, 8 percent for a six pack of Fat Tire craft beer, and 10 percent for an iPad. Companies have to prioritize where in their supply chain to focus on environmental improvements. It is natural for them to focus first on the largest contributors to their footprint.
Of course, every single product has a transportation footprint. So those percentages add up across the economy. Moving freight within the U.S. creates over 500 million metrics ton of carbon emissions each year. Freight already emits more carbon pollution than lighting, cooling, heating, ventilating and powering equipment in all U.S. commercial office space. Worse still, freight emissions are projected to increase nearly 40 percent from current levels by 2040 — even with the enactment of the first-ever truck efficiency standards.
The good news
Companies that take a systemic metric-based approaches to freight sustainability are finding significant savings. Example number one is Ocean Spray Cranberries. By making smart process changes to one of its primary transportation and distribution routes, it reduced emissions for the route by 20 percent while cutting costs for the route by 40 percent.
To achieve these impressive results, Ocean Spray deployed three of EDF’s Five Principles of Carbon-Efficient Shipping. It chose the most carbon-efficient mode possible, collaborated with other shippers, and redesigned its network for efficiency.
As this case demonstrates, shippers — the consumers of freight services that don’t own or directly operate trucks, trains, ships or planes — have significant control over the environmental footprint of logistics operations. Their decisions on where products are made and stored, how they are designed and packaged, and how much time is allotted for transit have a tremendous impact on carbon efficiency.
EDF believes all shippers have a significant opportunity to advance their sustainability goals by improving their supply chain logistics.
Through this case study series, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Edgar Blanco of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, we will demonstrate how several very different companies have been able to identify carbon- and cost-reduction opportunities in their supply chain logistics operations.
Are there emissions reductions ready to be harvested from your supply chain logistics operations? Yes. The biggest challenge is knowing where to look. We hope that this case study series will help to direct you to undertake similar improvements in your supply chain.
Learn more about EDF's work in supply chain logistics.
To learn more about the efforts of Ocean Spray or this case study series, sign up to attend the GreenBiz Forum being held in New York February 19-21. Representatives from MIT, EDF, and Ocean Spray will hold a workshop, Smarter Moves: Practical Supply Chain Strategies, the afternoon of February 20th.
This content was originally published on Greenbiz.com.