Driving Freight to a Zero-Waste Future — Net Zero Carbon Strategies

Most trucking companies are driving freight to a zero-waste future. To accomplish that, it is significant to consider net zero carbon strategies.

Undoubtedly, trucking is one of the largest industries in the US. Besides being a highly lucrative sector of the economy, it is also one of the most carbon-intensive. However, much of this is preventable as most trucking companies attempt to bring freight to a zero-waste future and improve sustainability.

Nearly all goods and commodities consumed in the US have been transported via roads at some point in their supply chain. According to the data derived from the American Trucking Association (ATA), the trucking industry hauls about two-thirds of all freight, which equates to 11.8 billion tons.

As a whole, the trucking industry is estimated to be worth $800 bn, representing around 80 percent of the nation’s freight bill. The industry employs around three million people, and about 37 million trucks are registered for business purposes, running 175 billion miles per year to transport truckload freight across the country.

This makes, without any doubt, the trucking industry the core of the US economy. It would not be wrong to say that the trucking industry is, in fact, the backbone of the US economy.

Deadhead Miles

To bring freight into a greener future, trucking companies consider removing waste from road freight. The trucking industry needs to revolutionize freight procurement by forming a more transparent industry-wide network of shippers and logistics service providers.

In fact, leading trucking companies are looking at opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and forecast future solutions to bring net-zero freight to the market. The more companies can tie social, environmental, and financial (triple-bottom-line) sustainability, the easier it would be for the customers to go after them.

Most trucking companies are focused on reducing empty miles. It has been reported that 35 percent of the time, the trailers of the heavy-duty trucks are empty, resulting in deadhead miles. Also known as empty, wasted, or non-revenue miles, deadhead miles accumulate as drivers return home without a load after making a delivery.

Deadhead miles are often viewed by the freight industry as a primary form of waste as they consume tons of fuel, emit carbon, and incur costs for drivers without earning them billable income. Not to forget, deadhead miles are contributing to increased environmental costs.

Lately, it was reported that 61 billion out of 175 billion trucking miles in the US were driven empty, resulting in 87 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Net Zero Carbon Strategies

To resolve this problem, it is recommended to adopt a few net zero carbon strategies. Some of them have been described below:

Optimizing Truckload Capacity

Estimates indicate that one-third of truckload capacity is wasted, so trucking companies need to focus on load consolidation and route optimization.

One of the most important net zero carbon strategies is to optimize truckload capacity. Up to a third of trucking-related emissions could be eliminated by better optimizing truckload capacity. Many trucking companies have risen to the challenge of bringing freight into the future.

Reduce Dwell Time

Many transport experts say that dwell time is another area that could help improve triple-bottom-line sustainability. Longer dwell times tend to increase idle emissions from trucks and waste truck drivers’ time.

Therefore, it is crucial to reduce dwell time to bring freight to a zero-waste future. It is a challenge for trucking companies to gather all the data and technology and make them work together to coordinate arrival times of the trucks and schedule the warehouse. Still, it is achievable, and maybe only a matter of time.

Offer Sustainable Fuel Options

One of the other important net zero carbon strategies is getting sustainable fuel options for your vehicles. Trucking companies can consider using renewable diesel for their vehicles as it reduces emissions by up to 90 percent.

They can also opt for biodiesel, or B100, as it reduces emissions by about 60 percent. Advanced fuels may cost the companies more than traditional fossil diesel, but they can be the best low-carbon solutions for them.

Reducing Deadhead Miles

Perhaps the biggest challenge faced by transportation and logistics companies is the challenge of reducing deadhead or empty miles.

Deadhead and empty miles increase fuel costs and CO2 emissions. They can also increase delivery times, affecting the company's profitability and undermining efforts to make a positive impact on society. Many trucking companies are now looking for collaborative solutions to eradicate the deadhead miles and reduce their operations' cost and impact.

Every year, trucks in the US drive 50 billion miles without cargo. This represents 28 percent of the total distance they travel.

SmartWay coalition led by the United States of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) brought together fifteen companies and freight sector associations to address long-term changes in the transportation industry.

Since 2004, it has lowered fuel costs by $29.7 billion and reduced emissions of harmful air pollutants by 103 million tons.

Trucking companies need to work together to reduce empty miles, tackle fuel price inflation, and the environmental impact of their logistics. They need to reduce wasted space and partially loaded trucks by following the net zero carbon strategies.

Transport collaboration is the key to reducing empty miles, wasted fuel, and CO2 emissions from their supply chain. They can optimize how their supply chain operates by lowering costs and improving performance while reducing environmental impact.

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Sara Naveed is a creative and digital content writer who uses her creative skills to develop and edit professional web content. Being a writer has always been her dream. She earnestly hopes people appreciate her writing—an asset she deeply covets. Using her 8+ years of working experience, she writes for trucking industry experts who are always looking for better technological solutions to their problems.

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