Increasingly, shippers are under pressure to improve sustainability measures. A study from logistics data firm Sifted in 2021 found that, of 500 consumers surveyed, “57% are willing to pay an extra 10% or more for eco-friendly shipping and packaging.” For these customers, partnering with a run-of-the-mill wasteful company or a sustainable shipping provider is a decision worth a steeper bill.
However, it’s not just customers and their pocketbooks that pressure logistics providers to embrace sustainable shipping. The global transportation industry is responsible for roughly 26% of global CO2 emissions, with approximately 23% of those emissions finding their source in heavy- and medium-duty trucks. Taking note of these stark figures, the Biden Administration has gone to great lengths in recent legislation to limit transportation sector emissions. Both the Ocean Shipping Reform Act and the Inflation Reduction Act include significant measures toward sustainable transportation objectives, including billion-dollar investments in port and overland infrastructure.
Shippers facing unprecedented pressure from legislative bodies and consumers often wonder how to improve sustainable shipping throughout increasingly complex supply chains. With shippers in mind, we’ve dug into three sustainable shipping advancements that are helping shippers move green.
Early in October 2022, Elon Musk, CEO of Electric car manufacturer Tesla, made headlines by announcing that Tesla would be delivering the long-awaited, fully-electric Tesla Semi on December 1. The first Tesla Semis, an all-electric class 8 semi-truck, would go to Pepsi to help the food company move toward its goals for sustainable shipping.
Although the Tesla Semi and its CEO made headlines, many semi manufacturers already offer electric trucks. Freightliner, Kenworth, and Volvo have added electric trucks to their lineup in recent years, with more manufacturers looking to do the same.
Despite having several options for electric truck purchases, shippers have been hesitant due to the steep price tag that accompanies many of these vehicles. However, that may be about to change with the recent Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, and its significant tax credits for shippers willing to buy an electric freight asset.
According to FreightWaves, “The tax credit for purchasing an EV covers the price difference between a diesel truck and an electric truck, or 30% of the truck’s purchase price, whichever is lower.”
While electric semi-trucks offer significant savings in fuel costs — a bonus for shippers tired of volatile operating costs — it remains unclear whether or not they’re worth the price. Without extensive electric infrastructure, drivers and fleet owners worry that a semi’s main asset — the ability to traverse long distances without stopping for significant amounts of time — would be hindered by lengthy waits at rare charging stations.
Sustainable Warehousing Strategies
According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, commercial and residential buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. For the energy-hungry logistics industry, retrofitting inefficient warehouses, or building sustainable warehouses, presents invaluable opportunities to reduce emissions.
The first step toward building a sustainable shipping strategy is choosing the right location for a warehouse. Often, warehouses have been built on relatively affordable land far from city centers to maximize cost per sq. ft. Although this strategy may have benefitted the bottom line and shortened distances to ports and logistics hubs, it has led to costly inefficiencies. Employees must drive farther to work, and freight assets have longer distances between distribution and customers. Beyond extended travel times, choosing a location optimized for sustainable shipping can help shippers save on costly utility construction costs, such as gas and water infrastructure.
The sustainability innovations a sustainable shipping warehouse offers don’t end at the blueprint. Internally, sustainable shipping facilities employ several strategies to lower emissions.
- Efficient Design and layout help ensure that as little energy as possible is used ferrying products through different stages of warehousing. Though it sounds like a no-brainer, this simple step can represent significant emissions savings for sustainable shipping companies.
- Temperature Control can present a burdensome cost for warehouse managers and logistics providers. By their nature, warehouses tend to be thin-walled buildings, reliant on powerful heating and cooling systems to protect the workers and goods inside. Improved insulation, such as sandwich boards, can help reduce emissions.
- Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) are computer-controlled systems that automatically place and retrieve loads with little human oversight. While these systems represent a steep initial investment, they can help sustainable shipping companies avoid harmful diesel emissions from forklifts.
By implementing these solutions in pre-existing and new warehouses, sustainable shipping companies can create sustainable shipping supply chains from the ground up. As warehouses compete for the honor of LEED certification — a designation by the U.S. Green Building Council denoting commitment to sustainability — the number of sustainable warehouses is sure to increase.
Improved Ocean Freight Visibility
While electric freight vehicles and improved warehousing strategies may be eye-catching solutions for sustainable shipping companies, sustainable shipping is ultimately about doing more with what you have. That’s why sustainable shippers partner with real-time ocean freight visibility providers.
Traveling long distances, often on heavily polluting cargo vessels, container shipping can present an immense obstacle to sustainable shipping ambitions. Poor communication across vast networks of 3PLs and freight forwarders can lead to inefficient allocation and transportation strategies, and a lack of ocean freight visibility can quickly result in inefficient routing.
By partnering with an ocean freight visibility provider, sustainable shipping companies can access the real-time container tracking, intuitive analytics, and automated exception alerts they need to ensure their shipments travel as sustainably as possible.
However, improved ocean freight visibility is only as useful as the platform sustainable shipping companies use to access it. Increasingly, sustainable shipping companies are accessing ocean freight visibility through API (Application Programming Interface) enabled freight visibility providers. Through an API, shippers can easily access the ocean freight visibility resources they need to ensure sustainable shipping practices throughout their supply chain.
Supercharge Your Sustainability with Freight Visibility — Partner with OpenTrack Today
Before sustainable shipping companies spend big bucks on new electric trucks or break ground on a new sustainable warehouse, they need to improve freight visibility. Improved freight visibility is how sustainable shipping companies can do more with less. OpenTrack, an industry-leading freight visibility provider, offers sustainable shipping companies the freight visibility assets they need to remain both green and effective, including:
- Real-Time Container Tracking
- Automated Exception Alerts
- Intermodal Freight Visibility
For sustainable shipping companies looking to optimize operations while improving sustainability, freight visibility through OpenTrack is a must-have in a sustainable tech stack. Book a demo with OpenTrack today, and see what unprecedented freight visibility can do for your business.