Logistics/Supply ChainsSponsored InsightsSustainability

New shipper survey tests compatibility of clean energy and profit

Transplace partnered with FreightWaves to gauge shipper attitudes and motivations around green initiatives

Across the globe, companies are under increasing pressure to pursue social responsibility and clean energy initiatives. All the upheaval that came along with 2020 only accelerated this trend. The COVID-19 pandemic, California wildfires, Midwestern floods, and movements for racial justice gave consumers time and space to evaluate their priorities when selecting brands. However, as these non-financial factors take hold of corporate operations, companies must reevaluate and adapt their existing processes, technologies, and operating philosophies.

For its part, Transplace is already at the forefront of clean energy initiatives, according to the company’s CEO Frank McGuigan. In 2021 alone, Transplace, which was recently acquired by Uber Freight, generated more than 1,040,581 metric tons of CO2 savings by leveraging dynamic continuous moves, truckload consolidations and conversions to intermodal. 

As the Transplace and Uber Freight networks come together, the two organizations will prioritize investing in initiatives and new technologies that enhance supply chain efficiency, remove friction, and ultimately enable more sustainable logistics management practices.

Transplace recently released a white paper in partnership with FreightWaves unpacking shipper motivations toward sustainability ⁠— with a focus on current attitudes and practices on carbon emissions of transportation networks. The white paper tests a hypothesis that shippers, while waiting for the replacement of internal combustion engines with battery-powered trucks, struggle to move beyond measures that coincide with what is also financially beneficial: maximized trailer utilization, less-than-truckload consolidation, reduced deadhead miles and appropriate mode shifts.

The paper unpacks and compares shippers’ attitudes toward sustainability initiatives across a variety of major industries: consumer packaged goods, manufacturing, retail, automotive, health care, agriculture and technology. Sixty percent of the shippers surveyed have transportation budgets in the $1 million to $20 million range, while 20% reported their annual transportation budgets as above $500 million. Here are three teaser takeaways from the white paper.

Sustainability efforts are largely environmentally motivated

Asked about the driving force behind sustainability efforts, half of the shippers surveyed reported that their companies’ sustainability efforts reflected a genuine desire to improve the environment. The next largest contingent (20%), however, acknowledged that their efforts reflect a desire to improve relationships with their customer base. 

Scope 3 emissions data remains murky without better tech

Only 25% of respondents track Scope 3 emissions ⁠— carbon emissions that occur outside the shippers’ four walls, which include the emissions from distribution. Shippers complained that data reports are not delivered as frequently as many would prefer. While 30% receive annual data reports, 17% would like those emission reports daily. Sixty percent of shippers hope to invest in distribution network efficiencies in the future, while 40% desire more in-transit metrics. Overall, shippers are hungry for more emissions reports and visibility technology.

Sustainability and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive

When shippers were asked whether a commitment to sustainability required a compromise of profitability, over 80% responded with some level of confidence they would remain competitive against their peers even with a meaningful sustainability strategy. Just over 13% remain highly skeptical of this.

To read the full white paper, download it here

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.