The Green Freight Journey: Raise the Bar

The Green Freight Journey is a five-step framework for freight optimization projects. In this blog series, EDF is taking a brief look at each step of the Journey.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Life’s a journey, not the destination.” Your Green Freight efforts are no exception.

The Green Freight Journey is about setting long-term goals and continuously learning.  Each time you reach a “destination,” remember to celebrate your success and share your learnings broadly within your organization and network.

Once you’ve acknowledged your success, challenge your department to take on new and more complex projects. As emissions from global goods movement continue to increase, the changes you make will make a difference and influence others to do the same.

To learn more about the Green Freight Journey, watch our recorded webinar, where we go into more detail about the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

During the webinar, participants will:

  • Be introduced to the steps of a Green Freight Journey and receive tips for success on each;
  • Hear real-world examples of companies that have cut emissions and costs by optimizing freight moves;
  • Review existing tools, including a green freight benchmarking survey and the EDF Green Freight Handbook; and
  • Learn how an EDF Climate Corps fellow helped Ocean Spray Cranberries identify new green freight opportunities

Steps on the Green Freight Journey:

Be a Green Freight Superhero

Also, watch our EDF Supply Chain Heroes video to learn how logistics managers can channel their "superpowers" to drive their companies' sustainability efforts. The choices they make, such as moving cargo via rail or participating in a truckload consolidation network, have the power to slash costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Become a green freight superhero at your organization today!

The Green Freight Journey: Declare a Goal

The Green Freight Journey is a five-step framework for freight optimization projects. In this blog series, EDF is taking a brief look at each step of the Journey.

Green Freight Journey

These first three steps of the Green Freight Journey are fundamentally about getting “up to speed” on your journey. You start with your objective and metrics; launch a pilot or two; and then embrace the approach with wider adoption and a formal recognition. Now it’s time to invest in progress over the long term.

Companies set themselves up for longer-term success and spur innovation by declaring a goal, which is step 4 of the journey.

To do this, companies need to:

  • Assess long-term opportunities – More than just looking at what they can move forward on today, companies need to be thinking along the lines of what  they can build towards over the next 3-5 years.
  • Focus on continuous improvement – The metrics-driven approach we discuss throughout the Green Freight Journey will be key here. A long-term goal backed by objective metrics inoculates your effort from the threat of “big shiny object” projects – for example, that pet project of an executive that might be great for a press release, but won’t move the needle forward on the metrics.
  • Choose an actionable timeframe – The goal should be far enough on the horizon that you will be able to make some significant network changes over the time frame. It should be close enough, though, to be actionable.
  • Set specific targets – Your goal should be framed clearly so that all team members will understand when the project can be deemed a success.

Many companies are already setting goals for their freight operations; here are some examples to get you thinking:

To learn more about the Green Freight Journey, watch our recorded webinar, where we go into more detail about the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

Steps on the Green Freight Journey:

The Green Freight Journey: Accelerate Performance

The Green Freight Journey is a five-step framework for freight optimization projects. Leading up to our January 14th webinar, EDF is taking a brief look at each step of the Journey.

Once you have completed your green freight pilot project(s), it’s time to start applying your learnings at scale. Build off the success of your pilot—from one or two projects, can you now expand your program to five or ten? Below are some useful tips to help your company take the next step in the Green Freight Journey.

  • Formalize the team  It’s critical that your company’s Green Freight efforts are given a clear structure. Recognize team members for their sustainability efforts as part of the evaluation process. Put in place procedures for sharing results and bringing forward new ideas.
  • Scale successful pilots – Make sure you get the most return for your effort. Scope out opportunities where you can scale up your impact and look for additional lanes where you can deploy your learnings.
  • Identify new opportunities – Be on the lookout for new challenges to take on. Are there slightly higher-hanging fruit to reach for? What projects have a bit more complexity but could deliver significant return? For ideas, be sure to check out the Green Freight Handbook.

CycleThis is the stage where you really start to leverage the power of EDF’s Virtuous Cycle of Strategic Energy Management. It is a model of change we've discovered that applies to energy performance  including in freight applications – across even radically different organizations with five powerful, interdependent components.

  1. Executive Engagement
  2. Resource Investment
  3. People
  4. Identification, Implementation and Results Measurement and Verification (M&V)
  5. Stories and Sharing

The five components of this machine affect one another, for better or for worse. If the performance of one improves, it often improves the performance of all in a "virtuous cycle" of positive feedback. When all components function at full capacity, the cycle will run smoothly to improve energy performance, maximizing financial and environmental returns.

Join me on January 14 at 12PM ET for a webinar that will introduce you to the full Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

Register here today for this informative webinar.

Steps on the Green Freight Journey:

The Green Freight Journey: Create Momentum

The Green Freight Journey is a five-step framework for freight optimization projects. In this blog series, EDF is taking a brief look at each step of the Journey.

Once you have established a Green Freight goal and defined metrics for tracking your progress, it’s time to start putting the wheels in motion. Below are some tips for taking the next step, creating momentum, in your Green Freight Journey:

  • Choose a pilot project – Select pilot projects that can be scaled up and replicated elsewhere in the organization, if successful. See our Green Freight case studies for examples of replicable pilot projects.
  • Focus on what you control – Choose a pilot project where you have direct control over the outcome. Examples here are increasing load factors or moving to intermodal from truckload. Projects that rely on the actions of suppliers, such as alternative fuel use by your contract carrier, are more difficult to execute.
  • Track results – Be sure to capture good data and use the metrics you created in step one. The data you produce will be a powerful tool in communicating the results of your pilot to employees, customers, and key stakeholders. The data will also help you identify new opportunities.

Below is an example from our Green Freight Handbook, which can help you determine which pilot project would be most impactful for your organization.

Green Freight Diagnostic

To learn more about the Green Freight Journey, watch our recorded webinar, where we go into more detail about the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

Steps on the Green Freight Journey:

The Green Freight Journey: Take Your First Step

The Green Freight Journey is a five-step framework for freight optimization projects. In this blog series, EDF is taking a brief look at each of the steps along the Journey.

The first step, Getting Started, is about deciding where you want to go. To do this, companies:

  • Gather internal stakeholders  such as supply chain or transportation executives, sustainability officers or EHS professionals, and an executive sponsor.
  • Define their green freight objective  such as reducing climate warming emissions or cutting fossil fuel consumption.
  • Determine key metrics – by reaching each agreement on how to objectively measure progress. A metrics-driven approach helps to keep you focused on the actions that will deliver the biggest results for the best returns.

When determining your metrics, consider these examples from the EDF Green Freight Handbook:

Metrics

To learn more about the Green Freight Journey, watch our recorded webinar, where we go into more detail about the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

Steps on the Green Freight Journey:

Start Your Green Freight Journey with EDF

Many leading companies are creating business value today by cutting carbon emissions from freight moves. These companies, such as Walmart, Ikea, Unilever and Ocean Spray, are following a similar path, one we at EDF are calling the Green Freight Journey, a five-step framework for freight optimization projects.

Sign up to learn more about the Journey.

Define the path. Then take a step. Then take another.

Print
Companies start by taking the nebulous concept of sustainability and making it mean something specific and material to their company, for example, “we are going to use fuel more efficiently." They create specific metrics to track this objective, such as product moved per gallon of fuel consumed, or emissions per ton-mile.

Next, these companies develop pilot green freight projects to test out that objective, using the metrics they chose to evaluate the projects’ efficacy. The projects that deliver financial and environmental returns are scaled up and those that don't are redesigned or scrapped.

Leaders have a critical role to play in this process as well: they create long-term improvement goals for their company’s key metrics. This enables them to focus day-to-day on continuous improvement, and it inoculates them against the siren call of “big shiny object” projects – ones that might be good for a press release but won’t move the needle on their metrics.

By taking these steps, companies advance along their Green Freight Journey, and along the way, cut costs and emissions.

Now it’s your turn.

Every company that uses the freight system to move products to market has opportunities to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions by taking a Green Freight Journey. Join me on January 14 at 12PM ET for a webinar that will introduce you to the Green Freight Journey framework, review real-world case examples and highlight tools EDF is making available to help companies progress on their journey.

During the webinar, participants will:

  • Be introduced to the steps of a Green Freight Journey and receive tips for success on each;
  • Hear real-world examples of companies that have cut emissions and costs by optimizing freight moves;
  • Review existing tools, including a green freight benchmarking survey and the EDF Green Freight Handbook; and
  • Learn how an EDF Climate Corps fellow helped Ocean Spray Cranberries identify new green freight opportunities.

Register here today for this informative webinar.

Good News for America: Cleaner, More Efficient Trucks that Protect Our Environment and Strengthen Our Economy

jason_mathers2014 is shaping up to be a great year for truck equipment manufacturers. Sales through October are running 20% higher than their 2013 levels. It’s a banner year that continues to pick-up steam. 2015 is looking even stronger, with forecasts suggesting it will be the 3rd strongest year ever for truck sales. There are several factors driving this market. Higher fuel efficiency is top among them.

This point was brought home recently by the lead transportation analyst for investment firm Stifel, who noted that “the superior fuel efficiency of the newer engines” was a key in getting fleets to buy new trucks now.

The CEO of Daimler Trucks, the leading producer of class 8 trucks for the U.S. market, acknowledged recently that their most efficient engine and transmission combination was “already sold out for 2014” and that the “demand is beyond their expectations.”

It’s not just Daimler that is having a good year.

2014 is a banner year for truck sales; and 2014 trucks are the most efficient ever.  2014 trucks are the most efficient ever because of smart, well-design federal policy.  This is the first year of the 2014-2018 heavy truck efficiency standards that will:

  • reduce CO2 emissions by about 270million metric tons,
  • save about 530 million barrels of oil over the life of vehicles built between 2014 – 2018,
  • provide $49 billion in net program benefits.

The 2014-2018 heavy truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas program demonstrates that climate policy benefits businesses, our economy, and human health, while also cutting harmful climate pollution.

Or, as Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America noted, these standards “are very good examples of regulations that work well.”

In its first year of existence, the 2014-2018 fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas program is boosting sales for manufacturers, reducing operating costs for fleets, and cutting climate pollution for all of us. It is clear that well-designed federal standards can foster the innovation necessary to bring more efficient and lower emitting trucks to market.   That is very good news, because we have an opportunity to further improve and strengthen these standards – creating more economic and environmental benefits in the process.  For this, we all can be thankful.

General Mills selects United Suppliers to increase fertilizer efficiency in the field

SUSTAIN-logo_circle_4c-300x300Isn’t it nice when somebody steps forward boldly to do the right thing and is rewarded for doing so? General Mills did just that for United Suppliers and the SUSTAIN platform, which will help farmers improve nitrogen use efficiency and productivity.
In July, General Mills put out a call for proposals to help the company meet increased production needs in ways that contribute to cleaner air and water.

It was almost like a future posting in sustainability want ads: “General Mills, a 17+ billion dollar food company, has the following need: Seeking best practices in nitrogen fertilization (nitrogen optimization) technologies for sustainable agriculture.”

The company recognized the pressing need to limit nutrient losses while also helping farmers produce more of the wheat, corn, soybeans and other crops it needs to make the products we buy.

And the winners are….

United Suppliers got the nod with its SUSTAIN platform. As I blogged earlier this fall, United Suppliers has really stepped out front with this platform, recognizing the growing  sustainability demands from retailers and food companies as a real business opportunity. They knew they were taking a risk when they reached out to Environmental Defense Fund last spring for help in developing a program to meet the changing needs of the supply chain.

If they built this program, would anyone care? Would their owner retailers sign up to implement the program? Would food companies want to use it?

Well, we still have a long way to go. But the signs are good, and this success with General Mills is a big step forward. General Mills saw the huge value in SUSTAIN, which includes nutrient use efficiency and soil health technologies, practices  and products, as well as the extensive training and implementation infrastructure needed to take it to scale.

The other winner of the General Mills competition was Adapt-N, a breakthrough nitrogen use efficiency platform that is also included in SUSTAIN.

Ramping up

This winter will be very busy with grower meetings and trainings for the agronomists and owners of participating ag retailers and cooperatives, as well as deployment of the robust data platform needed to maximize value back to the ag retailers and growers and aggregate data for supply chain reporting.

We are very excited to see SUSTAIN become part of General Mills’ work to meet its goal of being 100 percent sustainably sourced by 2020 for its 10 priority ingredients. These ingredients – corn, oats, wheat, dairy, fiber packaging, cocoa, vanilla, palm oil, sugar cane and sugar beets – represent half of the company’s total raw material purchases.

The commitment builds on the company’s sustainability mission to conserve and protect the resources upon which its business depends. Currently, General Mills has five regional sustainability engagements for commodity crops using the Field to Market continuous improvement framework , and it will deploy SUSTAIN and Adapt-N across these regions.  These programs will support General Mills’ primary purpose in advancing agriculture sustainability and grower profitability.

This post was originally published on EDF's Growing Returns blog.

The Supply Chain Word of 2014: Omnichannel

As we head into the last months of 2014 – and more importantly, the holiday season — I'm ready to make my nomination for the "word of the year." And no, it’s not “salmon cannon,” “bromance,” or others proposed by John Oliver or Stephen Colbert. The word supply chain and sustainability leaders should take away from 2014 is omnichannel.Omnichannel diagram

At its core, omnichannel is an approach to retail that aims to deliver a holistic shopping experience that integrates in-store and online platforms, combining the supply chain of brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce. It recognizes the staying power of each, the expectation of the customer for consistent prices across platforms and the ability to choose how, when and where to receive his/her purchases.

Folks that make a living thinking about how to allocate and where to place inventory have been using the word for a few years. In 2014, though, omnichannel crossed the chasm from being wonky, industry-speak to being a mainstream business concept – covered recently in USA Today – and a core aspect of competing in the digital age.

Which brings us to an important question: what are the environmental implications of omnichannel retailing?

Read more

Leadership on Sustainability Must Include Helping Shape Smart Policy

This past year, we’ve seen some bold action by companies in what we’ve dubbed the business-policy nexus, and it’s taking several different forms. Some have been calling for state or federal action on environmental impacts, while others are taking far-reaching voluntary efforts that could help support policy advocacy in the future.

Whether you view engagement on public policy as risk mitigation, providing market certainty, supporting corporate sustainability goals or securing competitive advantage, leading businesses are increasingly stepping up their efforts to support smart policy reform that will benefit the environment and economy.

Keeping toxic chemicals out of supply chains

Walmart shopper

Walmart and Target are moving to proactively get harmful chemicals out of their supply chains, even though the nation’s main chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is outdated and hasn’t been reformed in nearly two decades.

Earlier this year, our long-term partner in this area, Walmart, took a big step forward by announcing a new sustainable chemicals policy focused on cutting 10 chemicals of concern from home and personal care products it sells. Chemicals of concern – for example, formaldehyde, a known carcinogen – have been found in about 40% of the formulated products on Walmart shelves, including things like household cleaners, lotions and cosmetics. Read more