A healthier planet depends on a greener supply chain

Transportation is hard on the environment. Flock Freight is working to clean it up

Logistics is a dirty industry. The U.S. is one of the largest carbon emitters in the world, and the movement of vehicles is the number one source of those emissions. Freight trucks are responsible for about 23% of overall transportation in America, making these diesel-burning vehicles responsible for a whole lot of ozone-threatening emissions. Consumers are becoming more aware of both the urgency of climate change and the complexities of the supply chain, while transportation companies are feeling the pressure to address the industry’s impact on Mother Earth.

The push for greener transportation could not have come at a more urgent time. Scientists and government leaders across the world are pushing corporations across industries to clean up their acts in order to combat an ongoing climate crisis.

Individual states often enact their own environmental regulations, with California being perhaps the most environmentally proactive state in the nation. Starting in January 2020, the California Department of Motor Vehicles committed to only registering vehicles that comply with emissions regulations. More recently, the state proposed an emissions rule that would make warehouse operators responsible for the emissions of trucks moving through their facilities. 

Last year, 15 states and the District of Columbia signed an agreement to work together to limit air pollution from commercial trucks. The states hope to accelerate the deployment of zero-emission medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. It is the largest ever multistate action on clean transportation in the U.S.

Environmental regulations throughout most of the U.S. are lax in comparison, with many states relying on federal regulations to set the tone. The Trump administration was famously uninterested in enacting new environmental regulations, even rolling back over 100 existing rules. The Biden administration, however, has signaled a desire to prioritize “environmental justice,” which includes tackling air pollutants in low-income neighborhoods where a lot of trucking activity takes place.

The federal government has not yet announced specific regulations aimed at meeting the new administration’s environmental goals, but many transportation industry leaders hope to get ahead of any new legislation by working to clean up their supply chains now.

To complicate matters, post-pandemic consumer spending habits have led to a serious capacity crunch. Demand for space on trailers is strong and getting stronger. This is especially true within the less-than-truckload space. Simply moving from LTL to truckload shipments helps eliminate excess emissions by cutting out the back-and-forth movement associated with the traditional hub-and-spoke model. 

Newer offerings like shared truckload can help combat the excess emissions generated by typical LTL movements. Shared truckload offers the unique opportunity for shippers to move smaller loads from LTL to truckload by grouping shipments with similar starting points and destinations into a single full-size trailer. This ensures shippers are not stuck paying for empty space while also making the entire shipping process as efficient as possible. 

In March alone, at least half a dozen well-known transportation companies made public announcements about sustainability goals, green tech investments or eco-friendly achievements. Flock Freight, the first Certified B Corporation in the freight space, was among the innovators. The company became the first organization to offer carbon-neutral motor freight at the point of sale ⁠— at no additional cost. 

As of March 1, all FlockDirect shipments move carbon-neutral. FlockDirect shipments move via shared truckload. This alone cuts down on harmful emissions ⁠— and wasted money ⁠— by eliminating inefficiencies that plague LTL shipping, including multiple stops at energy-consuming terminals. Shipping goods via shared truckload also provides the same level of security as traditional truckload, cutting down the chances that goods are damaged or stolen in transit.

To reach carbon-neutral status, Flock Freight is supplementing the gains of its shared truckload offering by participating in a carbon offset program with
“Our shared truckload service reduces carbon emissions by conserving fuel, removing the environmental risks of remaking ⁠— then reshipping⁠ — damaged goods and eliminating the need for resource-intensive LTL facilities,” according to Flock Freight. “We erase the remaining impact of each FlockDirect shipment by supporting carbon offset projects. Every time a shipper books FlockDirect, we buy carbon credits that offset the impact of the associated fuel emissions — at no extra cost to the shipper.”

The wave of Earth-conscious decision-making within the industry reflects current consumer values and points toward future trends, making it clear that the time has come for companies across the industry to invest in a healthier planet. Companies that are reluctant to make changes may face the consequences of their actions in the court of public opinion long before stricter, more widespread environmental regulations come to pass.

Click here to learn more about how Flock Freight can help clean up your supply chain.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.