The purpose of this blog is to reflect on the growing trend of implementing environmentally friendly practices in the American trucking industry. Also, how adopting green trucking is playing a key role in shaping the future of the logistics and insurance sector. Let’s dive into them.
A Glimpse on Green Trucking GHG Emissions and its Impact on Climate Change and Vice-versa
According to the 2023 report of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the logistics industry in the U.S. is the biggest contributor towards the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 29% in total, followed by electricity (25%), industry (23%), agriculture (10%), commercial (7%), and residential (6%).
And out of the 29% transportation emissions, trucks share the majority with the light-duty trucks accounting for 58%, medium and heavy-duty trucks accounting for 23%, followed by aircraft (8%), ships and boats (3%), rail (2%), and others (6%).
In fact, the GHG emissions increased by 22% between 1990-2019 and the sole reason behind this was the long-miles traveled by the vehicles.
All these CO2 footprints depleting the natural fuel resources and resulting in the increasing global warming and drastic climate changes.
In the meanwhile, because of global heating, the truckers are facing challenges too in terms of livelihood and health impacts.
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According to a survey, the frequent occurrence of tornadoes, hurricanes and flood erosions are the results of the climate crisis. Not only that, the prolonged heat temperatures has caused cracks and holes on entire roads, which makes it difficult for drivers to drive with such poor infrastructure.
Thus, resulting in overall delays, risk to collisions, leading to financial strain, hindrances to business operations and the rising insurance costs.
Furthermore, the continuous reduction in non-renewable sources has spiked the prices of fuels which contributes towards the one-fourth cost of their whole expenditure. All these have created massive hurdles and a sense of uncertainty for trucking businesses towards their survival in future.
Seeing the rising climatic changes and its potential threat on cargo industry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has launched a holistic Grade Trade Energy mission in 2022 in order to promote sustainable transportation. Let’s study about the green trucking practices in more detail.
Introduction to Green Trucking
Green trucking or sustainable trucking refers to implementing environmentally friendly practices and green technologies in trucking operations so as to reduce carbon footprint, minimize the consumption of fossil fuels, and diminishing the waste.
Thanks to the innovations and mechanical advancements, the average mileage of trucks today has managed to achieve 8 miles per gallon. This was unlikely the case in early days which was around 5 miles per gallon.
In fact, some of the companies are experimenting with hybrid trucks. It include the combination of electric and diesel trucks with the aim of leaving less carbon footprints.
Growing Green Trucking Trends in 2023
Cut down on wasted mileage
Every single product that is transported via truck from the warehouse to the customer takes a toll on environmental health.
According to research, fully loaded heavy-duty trucks are responsible for more than 252 million metric tons of GHG emissions per year. Among them, 87 million metric tons of CO2 emissions are the result of empty miles driven. Working and reducing even 1% of empty miles can save up to 100 gallons of fuel.
Today, a majority of trucking companies are emphasizing route optimization and taking necessary preventive measures. This includes backhauling shipments, optimizing routes in real time, maximizing trailer utilization, and others.
Use of alternate fuels
Another way trucking companies are promoting green trade is by adopting alternative fuel options. According to a report by the Department of Energy, 90% of the total fuel used in the U.S. transportation sector in 2021 was petroleum-based. This huge abundance of using natural resources resulted in depleting fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
However, the introduction of alternative fuel options like electric trucks, compressed natural gas, and renewable diesel can decrease emissions, making trucking operations sustainable for the future.
However, all these fuel options come with significant pricing, which one should not overlook. After all, these are the ones that can greatly impact your operational costs. Let’s have a glimpse at each of them.
Electric trucks are highly popular and in great demand. The reason is because they are easy and cheaper to operate and produce zero emissions. The cost of charging an electric truck can vary.
However, for reference, the Tesla EV can cost around $0.25 per kWh, which is cheaper than trucks running on diesel. Even if this price fluctuates, the overall savings you get with electric trucks are significantly higher than with diesel trucks.
Another plus is that they produce no emissions. So, trucking businesses that are investing in these green technologies have no longer to worry about their future sustainability.
However, the only downside of electric trucks is that they demand considerable upfront investment. But if you look at the bigger picture, you can cover all the differences within 5–10 years of duration.
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
CNG is the next-best alternative to diesel trucks. They demand less upfront investment, are cheaper to operate, and generate 30% less GHG emissions. According to the alternative fuel price report by the U.S. Department of Energy for 2023, one GGE of CNG is equivalent to $2.86, whereas one gallon of diesel is equivalent to $3.88.
There is a significant difference between the prices of these two. And if the trucking companies continue to use the CNG in the long run, they can make hefty savings too.
However, the only downside of using natural gas is that it has a shorter range and demands sufficient robust CNG stations for refueling.
Another greener alternative that trucking companies are noticing is renewable diesel, aka green diesel. It is a different kind of diesel that is made from renewable sources such as soybean oil or canola oil.
It is chemically processed the same as regular diesel and contains a higher amount of cetane, which is responsible for generating fewer emissions. Nowadays, it is widely used as a replacement fuel for diesel and can be further blended with other petroleum products.
However, the only downside is that it is more expensive than regular diesel. But the plus point is that its prices are most likely to fall in the future as production increases.
The companies that are ready to invest in green trucking practices must look for renewable diesel, as it is a cleaner option and will soon be the most popular in the coming years.
And last but not least, biodiesel is the next best renewable alternative for diesel trucks. Since it has a higher amount of cetane and added lubricious, it gives superior performance than that of petro-diesel. Another plus is that it is cost-effective.
The average cost of biodiesel is $3.77 per gallon, contrary to $3.88 for diesel. Also, it emits 11% less carbon monoxide and 10% less particulate matter than diesel.
All these environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and domestic productions qualities make biodiesel a great alternative fuel for the green trucking industry.
In addition to investing in alternative fuels, some trucking companies have started investing in route optimization practices. Although it is a long-established strategy, with the integration of advanced technologies like Google Maps, businesses can now better monitor their truck routes.
This will further help in finding them where the drivers are sitting idle and wasting time in traffic jams. Moreover, the AI based softwares in trucking is helping businesses to better monitor their route and becoming more efficient.
By implementing this practice effectively in their business operations, companies can save on empty miles driven, avoid heavy congestion areas, and reduce overall carbon emissions. thus contributing towards a more sustainable transporting practice.
Environmental Benefits of Green Trucking
As more and more companies are switching towards sustainable trucking practices, it is resulting in lesser environmental pollution and lesser dependence on non-renewable resources. Here is how green trading is making positive impacts on the global climate:
Reduces carbon footprint
Adopting the greener transportation initiatives such as eco-friendly fuels, optimizing routes or reducing energy miles, all these results in better fuel efficiency and thus leads to reducing greenhouse emissions and carbon footprints.
Transportation is the biggest sector responsible for generating hazardous pollutants in the air, causing respiratory related problems among communities. Following environmental friendly practices helps in cutting down the pollution percentage and creates a clean breathing atmosphere for the living beings of this planet.
Reduces noise pollution
Air pollution is not the only one that is endangering our habitat, noise population is too. It is more of an invisible form of growing threat on living species. However, sustainable trucking exercises such as electric trucks contribute towards reducing noise pollution.
The EV trucks make less sound than those of diesel trucks. The only noise you will witness is by their tyres during high winds which is still lesser when you compare it with the traditional ones.
Reduces natural fuel consumption
With the growing transportation industry, the consumption of petroleum based natural resources are also getting consumed at a faster pace, resulting in constant depletion of them. But thanks to sustainable trucking and the green technologies, who have contributed in reducing the usage of these resources and thus helping in saving them for future generations.
Reasons Behind the Companies Shifting to Green Trucking
In addition to giving their cents towards the environment, there are a couple of reasons why companies are swiftly shifting towards the sustainable trucking practices. These are as follows:
To increase the savings
One of the primary reasons why trucking companies are taking a step towards going green is because it can help them in saving more money. How? It is no hidden fact that purchasing fuel is the biggest expense in running trucking operations.
And with the skyrocketing fuel prices, it has become the need of the hour for the businesses to find ways to cut down costs. And what can be better than alternatives than the green practices itself. This includes investing in electrical trucks which are 20% cheaper and 50% more efficient than diesel trucks.
Superior quality training
Green trucking technologies are helping companies by giving their drivers a high quality training. This includes instructing the truckers to operate fuel-efficient vehicles in the right manner that will help companies in reducing CO2 emissions as well as saving more fuel in the long run.
Thus, providing them an economical advantage and avoiding collisions.
Build a positive brand image
In the present time, it is imperative for companies to have a reliable brand image in their niche sector. Investing in sustainable trucking practices shows how much you as a company cares about the environment.
Incorporating the basic exercises such as reusable cups, electric forklifts (that minimize the danger of oil leakage), finding alternative routes that reduce less GHG emissions will make the planet a better place to live in while also helping you in building a positive brand image among the public.
Lowers insurance premiums
Implementing greener trucking practices not only benefits the environment but also helps logistics businesses lower their insurance premium rates. With sustainable trade strategies like route optimization with GPS tracking, you can help your divers find the safest and most congestion-free route.
Thus, it reduces the likelihood of collisions and any other potential risks, like theft. Another plus is that adopting advanced green technologies requires you to maintain your vehicles less. Both of these aspects result in lowering the premiums on your commercial truck insurance.
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Decarbonized transportation is the need of the hour. With awareness of how the logistics industry is the largest source of greenhouse gasses into the environment, causing severe disturbances in global climate change and declining human health, it is now crucial to incorporate sustainable trucking practices into businesses.
By following the footprints of green technologies and eco-friendly strategies in the truck sector, businesses, the nation’s economy, and the environment can all benefit mutually from each other. thus creating a sustainable future for every single one of us.
Moreover, exercising safe and efficient trucking practices creates a major positive influence on businesses by lowering their premiums, causing monetary relief from their shoulders.
So, what are you waiting for?
Take the first step towards green trucking today and start reaping the benefits of it.