Few industries have been affected more by the increasing awareness of our collective carbon-footprint and the rise of climate change than the transport and logistics industry. Armed with the right information, most exchange partners have already taken steps in the right direction to minimise their environmental effects, and many are now finding that winning transport contracts can depend on their participation.
The idea of ‘going green’ isn’t a new one, but taking the plunge to turning theory into practice is still met with some hesitation. A study from 2007 proved the benefits of making a company ‘greener’, and also reported on the amount of time that it took to complete the transition. The BIFA (British International Freight Association) reported that the test company acting as the subject of the study began to see rewards fairly soon after committing to make “environmental impacts (the) cornerstone of the decision making process when replacing plant and equipment and also generic commercial decisions. After just 2 years they achieved accreditation for their management processes being compliant with ISO14001:2004 in Environmental Management.”
Making it a Reality
Back in 2007, the decision to make environmental issues a priority of a business model was quite a nerve-wracking leap of faith. Transport contracts could be lost, not won, due to what was seen as a company’s overly zealous hippy mantle. It was declared as simply not a very realistic business practice and as almost impossible to implement on a day-to-day basis.
However, time and science have consistently been on the side of these environmentally friendly business pioneers. Today, more transport contracts are won, and not lost, due to companies’ commitment to energy efficiency and environmentally cleaner processes. Climate change is an irrefutable fact, and the transportation industry’s role in it must be addressed.
After just a few years of implementation, the test company chose to further develop their environmental policy by striving for and achieving the goal of becoming a carbon neutral company. Simply put, they proved it could be done and then some.
Many companies these days no longer have the luxury of flirting with the idea of becoming more environmentally sound just for the novelty of the endeavour. Governments are now mandating change and applying punitive consequences to businesses that do not comply within the requested timeframe, even going so far as to block transport contracts or severely limit their access.
According to the BIFA report, success for the test company was achieved through a partnership effort with their customers and suppliers. Environmental impacts were minimised by:
•Replacing traditional paper documentation with e-documents
•Utilising rail/road services, thereby reducing the number of road miles their product has to travel and, accordingly, the emissions within their supply chain
•Using a young and fuel-efficient Euro 5 & 6 fleet for road freight
•Introducing low-energy heating and lighting technology in buildings
The Future is Green
What was once seen as modernistic and pioneering in the field of environmentally conscious business processes is now quite mainstream. Modern technology aids every industry in all of their efforts to minimise their carbon footprint. The utilisation of Sat Navs and GPS devices decreases the amount of time spent on a single job, and with the advent of apps and secure computer business programs, ‘paper’ is a thing of the past.
Freight exchange platforms, too, play a vital role in the reduction of Co2. By collaborating in this kind of online community, member companies are able to not only maximise profits, but also reduce their empty running capacity, therefore vastly cutting their emissions.
Transport contracts are won on efficiency and lack of bureaucratic entanglement. A clean slate and complete compliance with emission regulations are very appealing features of a transportation company that plays in a competitive field of shipping and logistics. Freighters and transportation companies are now reaping the monetary rewards as well as the reputation benefits of being known as a ‘green’ business.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with transport contracts. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.