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How the freight forwarding industry makes the last mile eco-friendly

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Cynthia Madison


Since 2000, a significant reduction in the emissions of air pollutants has been registered. Carbon monoxide and non-methane volatile organic compounds decreased with 90%, sulphur oxides by 60%, and nitrogen oxides with 40%. Emissions from transportation are lower than two decades ago because auto-makers and vehicle users understood it’s their role to care for the environment and to cut air pollution. Air pollution from the transport sector slumped since 1990, even if the sector registered more intense activity than in the past.

However, on continents like Europe transport is still one of the biggest climate issues, because it accounts for around 30% of the total EU emissions. Both consumers and authorities expect businesses to adopt eco-friendly solutions, and the freight forwarding industry makes efforts to integrate sustainability in its operations.


Transport – world’s greatest climate problem

Even if heavy duty-vehicles make up less than 5% of all the cars on the world’s streets, they produce over 25% of all carbon emissions. The biggest issue is that 20% of freight vehicles are driving empty, so they produce air pollution with no reason. This means that freight providers pay to transport nothing. The first change companies need to make is to fill their trucks to the maximum and minimise the kilometres they travel empty. Not only that will optimise their use of resources, but it will also reduce emissions.

Cutting the number of kilometres trucks travel has environmental benefits because it reduces the number of vehicles on the roads, reduces congestion, and lowers the number of accidents. The freight forwarding market is turning to green prerogatives to make their operations more sustainable. Green freight forwarding aims to lower the environmental burden the transportation domain puts on the planet.

Digitalisation makes sustainable freight forwarding possible

Is eco-friendly logistics achievable? Yes, it is!

Freight forwarding executives should put sustainability on their agenda because it brings new possibilities for business. The latest supply chain management systems allow businesses to reduce the harmful effects their fleets have on the environment. Companies can cut costs and reduce carbon emissions at the same time if they optimise the model of network they use, change the modes of transportation, and effectively organise their routes and load capacities.

Digitalisation helps shippers to transport goods from the manufacturer to the client with reduced waste and a smaller carbon footprint. The freight forwarders that integrate SaaS solutions into their operations can better manage their network because they collaborate and deliver shipments together with other shippers.

When companies are fully using the space in each of their vehicles, they need fewer individual trucks. This reduces their costs and CO2 emissions. Digitalisation is one of the most effective solutions companies can adopt to make their operations greener.

Recycled and reusable packaging reduces waste

Air pollution isn’t the only issue freight forwarders experience. SKD Freight, Inc, a leader in the industry, stated that it’s impossible to avoid waste generation due to the nature of the business. Their daily operations include using tons of paperwork for packing slips, invoices and bills of landing, shipping material and waste all businesses produce. But they make efforts to reduce the impact they have on the planet, and they come up with strategies that allow them to reuse and recycle.

 SKD Freight adopted some innovative ideas to lower the impact they have on the environment.

·         When they purchase new pieces of equipment, they choose only energy-efficient models.

·         They take part in numerous recycling programs that help them recycle various materials, from hazardous ones to the common plastic and paper.

·          With the help of automated systems, they try to adopt paperless operations when possible.

·         By actively monitoring their waste input they constantly identify the factors that lead to the greatest waste accumulation. On their website they share the strategies they adopt to make the last mile to green operations.

165 billion packages are delivered yearly, in the USA, and they amount more than a billion trees. And we shouldn’t mention the plastic used to transport goods that wreaks havoc on the ocean life. Logistics businesses try to reduce the damage these two materials make to our planet, and they use recycled and reusable materials for their packages. When they switch to sustainable materials, they give a boost to their reputation and show their activist clients they are worthy to work with. Sustainable packaging still faces challenges but freight forwarders are determined to work hard to find a solution that keeps the planet clean from plastic and filled with trees.

Planning helps businesses reduce their footprint

Freight forwarding businesses can cut their footprint if they design time-saving protocols. There are times when a client has half a load’s worth of product and doesn’t ask for fast delivery. The shipper can combine multiple partial loads into a single full load to save on fuel cost and reduce vehicle wear-and-tear. It’s better for the company’s financials and the environment because there’s no empty truck driving on the roads.

When possible, they ship full container loads because they are cost-efficient and there are fewer chances the packages to get damaged. When the parcels are carefully stocked to fit in the truck, they don’t move during transport and they are less likely to deteriorate. International freight forwarders adopt this strategy because they create less emissions and cut costs.

Air freight produces 40 to 50% higher carbon emissions than other transportation means, and environmental-friendly businesses choose other transportation means when possible. Most of the times, ocean transportation is a better choice when they need to deliver internationally. Sometimes air freight is the best option to preserve goods, but logistics businesses need to understand the impact it has on the planet and to prioritise their shipments. Their clients are aware of the harm airplanes do to the environment and they are willing to wait for their goods to be delivered if they are aware this option allows them to improve the air they are breathing.

Sustainable freight forwarding boosts efficiency and is seen as one of the essential requirements companies need to meet if they want to maintain their profitability.

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