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Earth Day is Sunday and we're trying harder than ever to retrace our carbon footprints so we can learn to do better. The U.S. logistics industry is a tremendously important part of the economy. Consumer demand means freight is always on the move, and that, naturally, leads to more energy demand and fuel consumption.

We leave quite the carbon footprint in all sectors of the logistics industry, whether by road, air, track or sea (not to mention all our warehouses in-between!) Becoming environmentally friendly can seem like an impossible feat. It's especially daunting when we are faced with facts and figures:

  • Out of the total greenhouse gas emissions, road transport makes up 75%.
  • Freight movement accounts for 16% of all corporate greenhouse emissions, with heavy-duty trucks as the fastest-growing contributor to emissions.
  • It's projected that global freight transport emissions will surpass those from passenger vehicles by 2050.

Measure Your Carbon Tire Tracks

When you're behind the wheel, sustainability is the last thing on your mind. You've got deadlines to meet. However; small shifts in your habits will make a world of difference.

Route efficiency—Be vigilant when planning your lanes. Learn your route’s peak traffic hours as traffic not only wastes your time but wastes your fuel as well. Utilize your GPS and make sure to keep an eye out for alternate routes. This is where up-to-date technology can save you big.

Mindful driving—Did you know aggressive driving wastes gas? Slowing down by as little as 5 mph can lower your gas mileage as much as 33%. Fuel efficiency plunges when you breach 60 mph, so minding the speed limit will impact your fuel consumption. Not only that, but you can lower your overall fuel consumption by 5-10% by taking your time shifting speeds while stopping or starting.

Utilize cruise control—An addendum to mindful driving! If you’re having trouble maintaining speed, try cruise control so that your speeds are set.

Truck maintenance—Staying up-to-date on what’s going on under the hood will save you (and the environment!) in the long run. It’s the small things that add up. For instance, make a habit of checking your tire pressure. When your pressure is topped off, your MPG will improve up to 3%, letting you save more and waste less. Also, keep your air filters clean, so they can do their job maintaining your engine.

Idling—Cutting your engine where you can saves fuel and cuts down on emissions. Idling trucks burn more than one billion gallons per year.  If you’re stopped for the night, look for truck stop electrification, that way you can have all the amenities in your cab without eating up diesel. Learn more about truck stop electrification and plan your routes around sites if/when you can. There are plenty of other alternatives to consider as well.

Reuse and Recycle in the Warehouse

Freight There’s a lot of paper and cardboard waste in our warehouses. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Other times it’s recyclable!

Less packaging—Of course we want to make sure your freight arrives at its final destination in one piece, but we have a tendency to overpack our cargo. Pack smarter. Alternatively, seek out biodegradable, eco-friendly materials to pack with since most typical packing materials aren’t recyclable.

Smaller packaging—By smaller, we mean properly measured packaging. When we pack, we tend to use boxes or crates 40% larger than they need to be. Eliminate wasted space, increase efficiency, and avoid wasting materials.

Sustainable packaging —Speaking of eco-friendly packing materials, consider sustainable outer packaging materials. It’s better for the earth and your bottom line since packaging costs are lowered by 90% when reusables are utilized. Efficiency increases as well, as it’s made specifically to be lightweight and easy-to-use, and will be a perfect fit for fast-paced processing systems.

Proper waste management—There’s a lot of cardboard waste in warehouse management. Instead of having only a large, front load dumpster, take on recycling bins to properly dispose of recyclables.

Sustainably-Minded Shippers

Whether you’re shipping freight or parcel, there are ways to help reduce CO2 emissions by being more cognizant of your shipping practices.

Ship FTL when you canConsolidating your shipping will do wonders for regular shippers. Not only is it a cost effective measure, minimizing freight space will cut down on the emissions your shipment is putting out.

Schedule your own pickups! If you’re shipping small parcel packages, schedule your shipments for pickups rather than dropping the package off yourself. The truck will no doubt already be en route to its final destination; meet them halfway.

Avoid air freight where possible—If you can manage, avoid using air freight. Of all the modes of freight transport, air freight shipping has the most carbon emissions output, up to fifty times higher than ocean transport.

Staying Green as a 3PL

As a third-party logistics company let’s be more mindful of how we practice our business. Here’s how:

Measure your carbon footprint—By measuring your carbon footprint, you can better plan the route your freight takes, and how it travels along that route. The World Shipping Council found that a shipment traveling by ocean freighter from Australia to Long Beach, which is around 8,000 miles, has a smaller carbon footprint than a shipment traveling from Long Beach to Texas by truck—about 1,500 miles.

Go digital/leverage technology—We love paper in our industry,  but there’s been a slow shift toward digitizing our work and keeping it in a cloud. Make a move towards digital paperwork, so as to minimize waste.

Partnering with SmartWayGreen Supply Chain Award. Having a sustainable business is important to us, which is why the majority of our shipments are delivered on SmartWay certified carriers. Improving sustainability starts at home, and success when it comes to freight sustainability is all about outcomes—setting your mark, reading the results, and learning from our mistakes so we can try, try again.

The path we leave behind for future generations can be paved in a myriad of different ways. We don’t want anyone to follow our carbon footprints. Call FreightCenter at 844-212-7447 to get started on shipping greener today.

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