Freight transportation is vital for any country’s economy. However, despite its considerable importance, carbon pollution from transportation is a severe issue that affects the environment. According to EPA, the use of renewable fuels increased to minimize greenhouse gas emissions coming from transportation which already accounts for 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US, the most significant contributor to GHG emissions.

Emission standards for cars and trucks are already implemented, and they include actions like reducing countries’ dependence on oil and encouraging vehicle manufacturers to meet standards in the next few years. Of course, regulations for aircraft and other transportation modes are available, considering how complex the supply chain is.

But recently, it has been proposed that freight transport can be de-carbonized with repetition and scalability. Here’s how.
Freight transport


Multi-shipper coordination

The lack of green solutions often contributes to a perished environment and the need for more efficiency. In the case of freight transport, this happens when trucks carry empty trailers due to companies’ load-by-load approaches. Of course, not every freight carriage can be approached differently, such as the case of chemical transport which requires specific regulations to be met on aspects like logistics, packaging, and labeling of hazardous materials. Drivers also must have the appropriate certification to be able to transport such sensible carriages and avoid troubles on the road.

However, regular transport can be improved to reduce empty miles by allowing shippers to accept other loads on their trucks. This strategy makes it easier for fully-loaded circuits to coordinate, eventually minimizing the time invested in transportation and fuel.

Reduced dwell-time

In transportation, the swell time is when the vehicle stops to drop off or pick up the products. These minutes are crucial to calculating the time it takes for the carrier to operate its tasks, but sometimes it may happen for the company to miss making out the most of its opportunities.

One solution for reducing dwell periods when they’re a waste of time is implementing a standing appointment plan for vehicles. This implies that the seller and the buyer agree on a specific time and date to unload the carrier. Of course, it’s essential to collaborate with transportation organizations that can be trusted, like De Rijke, which approaches container transport, dry bulk transportation, and also international LTL and FTL shipping.

Electrified short hauls

Efficient technological advancements are also part of the freight transportation industry's challenges because aspects like battery density and charging infrastructure are yet to develop to meet today’s demands.

What shippers can do is identify the best routes for electrification, which means calculating the amount of mile range that can run on a particular trip with miles to spare from the charging station. This requires a lot of planning and coordination, but if done earlier, this solution could make transport more efficient.

At the same time, companies that choose electric trucks will be able to handle a ton of short-haul routes, in contrast to what regular trucks can cover. This strategy doesn’t disrupt the flow of cargo carried. It seems like electric-equipped trucks are easier to operate and also cheaper to maintain compared to internal combustion engine models.

Real estate partnerships

Companies need to collaborate with other sectors in transportation to get the best deals. However, these partnerships could go further and improve the efficiency of their contracts by analyzing what could be developed. For example, freight businesses that leverage considerable industrial and warehouse holdings can expand their activities by bundling charging infrastructure into tenant leases, which might encourage purchasing electric or EV-friendly assets and vehicles.

Real estate owners can also benefit from this type of partnership because they can get broader media coverage and an array of customers from different industries. This not only expands their portfolio but also develops their area of expertise.

Other possible partnerships

Of course, real estate is one of many sectors that represents a proper collaboration with transport. For example, freight companies can work with transportation-as-a-service businesses offering heavy-duty trucks in a monthly subscription model with zero emissions drayage. There’s also the opportunity to partner with private fleets that can take many forms, depending on the company's needs and dispositions. A charging provider could work with the shipper for the installation phase, while a freight coordination platform can partner with the shipper to optimize the trip.

But why is freight decarbonization so necessary?

Carbon emissions effects are causing the planet’s temperatures to rise, which only leads to droughts and extreme weather events. Unfortunately, these metrics show how carbon emissions rise monthly, and the trend is only rising.

Considering that, among other industries, transportation is among the most significant contributors to climate change, it needs to be changed. There are many ways to change how the sector works, from making transport on demand more moderate to improving vehicle occupancy. There’s also the modal shift for less emitting modes and reducing energy consumption, but these steps precede decarbonization.

Freight companies can bring significant changes by introducing these five steps within their management strategies. However, this movement also depends on every country’s goals. France, for example, plans to reduce vehicle consumption by 20% until 2050 to meet its climate change goals, but this approach isn’t the same in all countries.

Unfortunately, the decarbonization of freight transport is more challenging than passenger transport because there’s less implication and investment in freight, as certain goals dominate the final main player of the sector, while transport ones work differently. Interestingly, both sectors share similar infrastructure and have developed in the same way, but the final intention for each industry is different. Therefore, each transportation business must create a unique attack plan to save fuel and time.

Bottom line

Freight transport is among the most significant contributors to climate change, considering how many immense vehicles are used for local and international transport. All this fuel consumption leads to increased carbon emissions, which companies are taking action to reduce in the following years through decarbonization, proper organization and better strategies.