The widespread clamor among the scientific community on the need for curbing human carbon footprint on the planet is well documented. But for the most of us, the Paris Climate Accord of 2015 was instrumental in quantifying the seriousness of the issue and in creating a greater environmental awareness towards global carbon emissions.
It is estimated that international trade-related freight transport accounts for nearly one-third of the total emissions across the world. Such situations call for innovation in the freight industry that could help mitigate carbon footprint through optimizing fuel consumption and improving operational efficiency.
Freightos, an online marketplace for international shipping is now in the limelight for having taken the initiative to create a transparent carbon footprint estimation. The company provides its customers and other third-party organizations that are interested in understanding emissions, with a suite of free CO2 calculation tools.
FreightWaves spoke with Eytan Buchman, the vice president of marketing at Freightos to get the significance of this solution and to know more about the company’s vision for the future. “The founding idea of Freightos was to bring international freight shipping online. And this meant connecting freight forwarders, shippers, importers, and exporters on a single platform,” says Buchman.
“And while doing this, we started getting a tremendous amount of information like pricing quotes, optimized route data, and carbon emissions data. We realized we could use that data to create insights for organizations - be it companies or the government, anyone who would be interested in utilizing it.”
Freightos noticed that there was an increasing trend of companies, especially the ones in the US showing interest in greater visibility into their carbon emissions. “For a long time, when it came down to making decisions on how green a supply chain was, it was about cost-benefit analysis and how much money a company was saving because of it,” explains Buchman.
“And beyond that, there has always been an awareness within large companies in communicating to their customers about how they are a responsible corporation, and saving the planet by lowering carbon emissions.”
The Freightos platform essentially allows people to compare emissions across different transportation modes like air, road, and ocean hauling, with an estimated carbon footprint that a shipment might have when it travels through a specific mode. As Buchman sees it, this might not be a core deciding factor behind a business, but if route optimization could save money with an added incentive of reducing emissions, companies might choose wisely.
Though the idea sounds fairly simple, Buchman indicates that the routing algorithm is quite challenging to develop due to the innumerable modes and routes through which freight can be transported.
“If you are exporting from China to the US, you could forward it on an airplane, or via the oceans from dozens of different ports in China. Or you could send it by rail from China to Europe and then ship it from there,” he adds. “There are a lot of combinations to look into and also since quotes are based on transit time as well, it gets even complex.”
The tool, in essence, takes all these possibilities into account and provides options that are optimized by transit route, cargo dimensions, mode of transport, and carbon emissions.
And by introducing this tool and including a lot more information about individual freight transits than before, Freightos believes it can cater better to its clients. Buchman also has an interesting view about how this would go down well with consumers of the future.
“A significant percentage of buyers or businesses will be millennials within 2020, who have grown up buying on Amazon and watching Netflix,” he notes. “They are used to having information on their fingertips, and we are doing just that by providing more insights on our site.”
Apart from this, Freightos sees the opportunity of creating brand awareness through the carbon emissions tool, with an expected increase in website traffic driven by people visiting the site for using the tool.
Buchman remarks that the emissions projections will be made more accurate in the future by ascertaining the specific model and shape of the transport - be it a ship or an airplane. “Different types of ships and airplanes have distinctly varying emissions with some of them being more eco-friendly than others,” concludes Buchman. “If the tool transitions into a full-fledged product, this could be a direction we might look at.”
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