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Sustainability in Supply Chain Management

Sustainability, or “Going Green,” is a hot topic these days, for both consumers and companies. From a logistics standpoint, sustainability will require an emphasis on finding shorter, more optimal routes and greener technologies. It is also important to keep in mind worries that some may have regarding the maintainability of efficiency and lowered costs even while using more sustainable methods. 

Although many have begun incorporating sustainable practices for the planet into their daily lives, such as by recycling plastic bottles or no longer using straws, the most significant carbon footprints are up to large companies and governments to reverse. Jesse Klein from GreenBiz Group noted that Mike Roeth, “executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and truck operations leader at Rocky Mountain Institute, [...] describes trucking’s current transition to more sustainable operations as ‘the messy middle.’"

A greener trucking industry

One suggestion to a greener trucking industry is to have drivers switch to electric vehicles, but this would require a large amount of time and investment in order to make the switch in infrastructure. Even then, during a webcast, “Patrick Browne, director of global sustainability at UPS, emphasized [...] that going fully electric isn’t an option for most fleets. "It’s going to be a poly-fuel future,’ Browne said.”

Regardless of the difficulties, some states are marching ahead on orders to help save the planet. This year, California’s Air Resource Board (CARB) passed the Advanced Clean Truck rule, requiring that over half of all trucks sold by 2035 be zero-emission, and that by 2045, all trucks must be zero-emission vehicles. Not all states follow this model, but California is leading the way to a future that we all must eventually trudge toward - like it or not, we are all on the planet together, and how we leave it while we’re here will have direct impacts on its future health for further generations.

With that said, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds the trucking sector responsible for over 50% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and over 30% of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.

The importance of sustainability in logistics

“In Britain alone, known NO2 emissions have been estimated to kill 23,500 people every year, according to aerosol science professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex, southeastern England. [...] In 2012, the World Health Organization's cancer research agency classified diesel engine exhaust as cancer-causing.” Research has shown that these emissions are physically dangerous for humans to interact with over long periods of time, and that we would be better off curbing the amount of harmful production from our industry. What options do we have towards that goal?

Outside of fuel efficiency, those in the shipping industry can also look at optimizing loads: moving more freight with fewer trips means fewer carbon emissions, less fuel used, and higher levels of customer happiness. Derek J. Sine, Managing Director of Vander Group, writes that, “transportation department statistics show that somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the available space on loaded trailers is not being utilized,” meaning there is still ample space to utilize this untapped resource. In addition, packaging using alternative methods can create a packaging process that is cheaper, sustainable, and more protective of both the product and environment. Sine also suggests targeting empty miles, as “DOT statistics show that around 20 percent of the truck miles being driven are empty miles during empty backhauls or deadheads.” 

Overall, ZUUM Transportation hopes for a brighter planet than how we have found it, and is happy to contribute to a future that is simultaneously green and efficient.

Related sources:

https://blog.solistica.com/en/sustainable-logistics-a-priority-for-supply-chains

https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-more-sustainable-supply-chain

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/there-are-many-routes-sustainable-trucking-industry-needs-all-them

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/californias-new-truck-rule-its-big-its-bold-its-controversial

https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/ex/sustainablecitiescollective/bringing-sustainability-trucking-industry/1157616/

https://www.supplychain247.com/article/how_trucking_can_improve_fuel_sustainability

https://www.epa.gov/smartway/why-freight-matters-supply-chain-sustainability

https://phys.org/news/2015-09-nox-gases-diesel-car-fumes.html

https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/air-quality-VOCs

https://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/8-sustainable-supply-chain-trends-for-smart-supply-chains/

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