How to build a greener supply chain by reducing your freight footprint

With the undeniable impact of globalization, sustainability efforts and programs are likely playing a larger role in your company’s business strategy. Companies in almost every industry are looking for ways to create more workable, responsible infrastructure for the future, and one way they’re doing it is by reducing their carbon footprints.

A company’s carbon footprint is the result of many factors, not limited to economic output, energy use, packaging, products, waste and other areas that contribute to the production of harmful greenhouse gases. Not surprisingly, the freight sector is a major culprit in GHG emissions, as inefficiencies around sourcing and transportation can easily add up in excess waste and energy use. For companies looking to shrink their carbon footprint — and save money — switching to greener freight practices is a good first step toward creating a sustainable supply chain.

Measure your impact
Before you can develop more sustainable freight practices, you’ll want to measure the current environmental footprint of your supply chain. Conducting a sustainability audit of your supply chain will give you a baseline for where your freight operations currently stand as far as energy use and dependence on carbon-emitting fuels. Some freight companies, including Freight Management Inc., can also help you calculate your freightrelated emissions with new tools for transportation operations. One resource FMI now offers its clients is a distribution pollution solution calculator, which allows you to estimate your company’s carbon emission output for a freight delivery based on a shipment’s origin, destination and weight.

Minimize waste
In the supply chain, anything not found in a product is considered waste. So eliminating waste in your freight management can help you shrink your carbon footprint by decreasing your energy use and dependence on carbon-emitting fuels.

Consider some of the following waste-reduction strategies for greener freight practices:

  • Reduce the miles and travel times to customers.
  • Consolidate orders and shipments.
  • Develop delivery and demographic profiles of customers and suppliers.
  • Fill trucks as full as possible and optimize trailer use.
  • Minimize the amount of filler materials through smart package design.

After conducting a sustainability audit, you’ll be able to determine exactly where there are opportunities to minimize waste in freight transportation and logistics, whether it’s by decreasing out-of-region movement, consolidating shipments, streamlining processes or utilizing alternative forms of transportation — all of which come with the bonus of cost savings.

Build your green team
You’re going to need people who will take charge of leading your freight sustainability efforts, including implementing process changes or educating others about carbon emissions and green freight goals. This team can help your company track progress against carbon emissions goals, monitor green freight trends, overcome implementation obstacles and identify opportunities to improve freight processes in the future. Employees from a variety of areas should be involved in your “green team” to ensure that it is a cross-departmental effort.