Freight Sustainability Leadership
Learn about resources, examples and guidance for freight sustainability leadership for shippers, carriers, and logistics companies.
Freight industry leaders implement a wide range of practices throughout their supply chains to drive efficiencies, cost savings and freight transportation emission reductions that also help address climate change.
These efforts include (but are not limited to):
- exhibiting a top-down company commitment to environmental excellence, such as reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs);
- utilizing quality data and analysis in decision-making;
- modeling and championing accountability and freight sustainability;
- inspiring market and industry transformations that change how freight is moved; and
- sharing successful freight sustainability strategies with industry.
Like top-performing SmartWay partners, companies that demonstrate freight sustainability leadership rely upon key performance data and resources to inform key freight transportation operational and procurement decisions. What sets these companies apart, distinguishing them as freight sustainability leaders, is their willingness and capacity to fully integrate freight sustainability into their organization’s operations and corporate culture. The information contained here, drawn from years of observing the most effective practices and strategies of top SmartWay environmental performers, can help decision makers and industry stakeholders envision and shape their own pathway to freight sustainability leadership.
Implementing these measures can help your company grow your business, while supporting your customers and stakeholders, as well as lead to recognition for your leadership and achievements.
The most significant actions companies can do to demonstrate freight sustainability leadership are making decisions, conducting activities and employing technologies/strategies that yield emissions reductions from and improve efficiency in the freight sector. The information which follows is based on observations and experiences of SmartWay Partner companies that consistently exhibit superior environmental performance.
Performance Benchmarking and Reporting Practices
- Establish and maintain effective use of key freight activity data in SmartWay tools to ensure consistent, credible benchmarking and reporting through comprehensive data gathering, reporting, storing and securing practices.
- Go beyond benchmarking your freight operations with SmartWay tools, and use your data across business operations, leveraging this business intelligence to:
- engage your C-Suite; establish greenhouse gas (GHG) action plans; and set improvement goals as a foundation to make changes and enhancements to operations.
- Use your performance results for year-over-year planning and strategies in:
- procurement processes; environmental metrics; and to make better freight sustainability decisions for your companies.
- Publicly report or disclose your Scope 3 and Scope 1 GHGs for your private fleets and freight emissions, as well as targets to reduce them.
- Create and institute a succession plan to carry on your company environmental commitment to track and report freight efficiency performance via SmartWay.
- Empower employees to make efficient freight efficiency and transportation decisions.
- Involve EPA SmartWay experts in your events/workshops for information-sharing opportunities.
- Seek sustainability and freight efficiency expertise for staff training and to enhance business practices and procedures.
- Fully operationalize freight sustainability efforts and SmartWay methods as standard operating procedures. Share key goals and progress at all levels of your organization. Include SmartWay participation and its’ influence on your company’s freight sustainability processes, goals and progress where appropriate.
- Share your freight sustainability strategies, lessons learned, and results with industry peers and your competitors to advance the freight sector.
- Collaborate with industry peers on efficiency initiatives such as co-loading, shared backhauls and other empty-mile reduction projects.
- Participate in and support global freight sustainability initiatives such as International Standards Organization (ISO), Global Logistics Emissions Council (GLEC), Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), We Mean Business, and/or regional sustainability initiatives such as North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and EPA Clean Diesel Collaboratives.
- Participate in Green Freight pilot programs, demonstrations and studies in other countries where you may have operations. For more information, visit GlobalGreenFreight.org
- Support local/regional efforts for cleaner air in urban areas and adversely impacted communities.
- Advocate and collaborate for broader climate environmental sustainability initiatives, i.e., Science-Based Targets, and public health initiatives. For more information, please visit ScienceBasedTargets.org
- Go beyond GHG reduction efforts to focus on reducing black carbon, particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions to improve local air quality, especially in urban and/or disadvantaged communities exposed to harmful emissions.
- Shippers and Logistics Companies – improve or change product and/or packaging design to facilitate efficient trailer/container or rail car loading; reduce truck trips; facilitate idling reduction by adding “no idling” signs and driver comfort stations to shipping/receiving docks, scheduling appointments, and implementing drop and hook operations.
- Shippers and Logistics Companies - encourage and incentivize your carriers to maintain equipment for optimum efficiency.
- Suppliers and Vendors -- implement environmentally friendly alternatives/practices as buyers/sellers of freight services. Some examples include use of efficient carriers, optimizing routes, and mode switching.
- For Carriers - showcase your efficiency and sustainability efforts to shipper clients, including your participation in SmartWay.
Leaders serve as role models and demonstrate by example. They share information and communicate successes, accomplishments and lessons learned. Leaders can also educate others regarding what works most effectively. This section provides some examples of freight sustainability leadership that drive efficiency and emissions reductions.
Education, Publicity and Engagement
- Brand and market your company’s freight sustainability efforts:
- As part of your company’s public-facing and consumer messaging;
- To educate consumers, employees and suppliers on choices they can make to reduce GHGs and other pollutants.
- Publicize your freight sustainability and GHG commitments (including SmartWay-related efforts) to both raise awareness and increase visibility regarding strategies, technologies, results and lessons learned. This could be accomplished through articles and/or press releases in trade or local media publications; on consumer-facing marketing and websites; at peer/customer presentations at meetings/workshops/conferences and via advertising.
- Share freight sustainability results throughout the supply chain and encourage others to do the same. Sharing results with your business partners and networks boosts knowledge of freight efficient strategies and adoption of technologies that reduce emissions from the freight sector.
- Engage in discussions, conversations, encouragement, assistance and/or mentorship opportunities that may encourage freight sustainability decisions and efforts by companies/organizations. Some of these communications could also encourage freight sector supply chain partners and colleagues to consider registration with the SmartWay Partnership to support their freight sustainability efforts. These efforts also may have the side-benefit of inspiring and motivating current Partners to continue with the SmartWay Partnership.
- Publicly sharing your company’s freight sustainability experiences, results and successes is another element of freight sustainability leadership. Consider mentioning your participation in SmartWay as part of discussions and publicity endeavors regarding your company’s freight sustainability efforts as well. An easy way to display SmartWay participation is via SmartWay tractor/trailer labeling and use of the SmartWay Partner logo.
- SmartWay Carrier Technical Bulletins
- Designated Tractor and Trailer guidance
- Benefits of Becoming a SmartWay Carrier Partner
- The Business Case for Registering as a SmartWay Truck Carrier Partner (pdf) (March 2022, EPA-420-F-22-004)
- How SmartWay Benefits Small Fleets
- SmartWay Carrier Video
For Logistics Providers
- Benefits of Becoming a SmartWay Logistics Company Partner
- Resources to Introduce Your Carriers to SmartWay
- SmartWay Logistics Video
- Letter Templates for Recruiting Carriers
- Launching a Successful Freight Sustainability Strategy
- Shipper Technical Bulletins
- Global Green Freight.org
- The Business Case for Being a SmartWay Shipper Partner
- SmartWay for Shippers: The Business Case for Green Freight (video)
- Letter Templates for Recruiting Carriers