Summit keys in on trucking’s role in sustainability

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) U.S. Freight Sustainability Summit held last week in Washington, DC, focused on the critical role that freight transportation plays in the economy, energy security and environment of the U.S.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) U.S. Freight Sustainability Summit held last week in Washington, DC, focused on the critical role that freight transportation plays in the economy, energy security and environment of the U.S.

Drawing on a broad range of expertise, the conference was co-hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) and the Retail Industry Leaders Assn. (RILA).

Conference speakers presented best practices, operational strategies, new technologies and other innovations aimed at helping integrate sustainability into transportation management and business practices.

Lindsay Chason, senior manager for environmental innovation at Home Depot, in her remarks at the Summit promoted passage of the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act (SETA), S. 747/ H.R. 763. She said SETA would modernize federal truck weight limits by giving states the option to grant interstate access to heavier trucks equipped with “safer six axles instead of the typical five.” Home Depot, noted Chason, is a member of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of 200 shippers and allied associations “dedicated to responsibly increasing federal vehicle weight limits on interstate highways.”

“Transportation accounts for about 50% of Home Depot’s carbon footprint,” said Chason. “For Home Depot and other companies, SETA represents an opportunity to safely boost our environmental sustainability and productivity. The six-axle trucks SETA allows are more efficient because they can safely haul more goods, reducing the truckloads, vehicle miles and fuel associated with each ton of freight.

“SETA will safely increase supply chain efficiency, helping Home Depot meet our sustainability goals and reduce cost for our company and consumers,” she continued. “SETA is simply a win-win for the environment, highway safety and business. Please join us in encouraging Congress to include SETA in the Highway Reauthorization legislation. Supporting smart transportation policy is the right thing to do.”

While the first day of the event zeroed in on how leading trucking and logistics firms, retailers, manufacturers, ports and non-governmental organizations are successfully integrating sustainability practices into their transportation and business operations, the second day featured an EPA SmartWay workshop.

The workshop demonstrated how the program’s public-private collaboration can help industry and the country save fuel and enhance the economy through new technologies and innovative strategies, tools and methods for carbon accounting and performance benchmarking.

The SmartWay voluntary initiative was lauded by EDF president Fred Krupp as “a critical program that shippers can leverage to increase their freight efficiency.” Krupp said he believes in “rolling up our sleeves to partner with business and civic leaders, finding ways to achieve real environmental improvements and grow a cleaner energy economy while saving money, creating jobs and improving public health. There's no better win-win-win solution.”

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Since SmartWay launched in 2004 within EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, more than 2,900 U.S. corporations (including virtually all the nation’s largest truck carriers, all Class I rail companies and many top Fortune 500 companies) have come to rely on SmartWay’s supply chain, accounting tools and methods. According to EPA, the SmartWay program signifies a partnership among government, business and consumers to protect the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil and improve air quality.

“The EPA SmartWay program has been an excellent partnership for RILA and our members,” said Adam Siegel, vp of sustainability & retail operations at RILA. “Through this public-private partnership, retailers have been able to place fuel-saving equipment and trucks on the road, while reducing their supply chains’ carbon footprint. EPA has done a fantastic job driving the success of this important program and we look forward to continuing to promote SmartWay.”

“EPA’s SmartWay program is a model for how government and the private sector can come together and achieve mutually beneficial results,” said ATA president & CEO Bill Graves. “Over the years, the program has facilitated the deployment of thousands of fuel-saving devices that reduce the amount of money our industry spends on fuel and lessens the impact of freight movement on the environment.”

“We are pleased to have worked with EPA and other industry partners on this national freight summit,” noted Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), a Summit sponsor. “Diesel is the prime mover of virtually every mode of freight transportation today and its transformation to a new low-emissions technology makes it a key technology for sustainable goods movement in the future.”

Regarding SmartWay’s impressive track record to date, according to EPA:

  • Since 2004, SmartWay partners have saved 50-million barrels of oil. This is equivalent to taking over three-million cars off the road for an entire year.
  • SmartWay is helping U.S. businesses to slash their fuel costs, saving $6.1-billion dollars to date. These savings support America’s trucking industry and the customers they serve.

Over 2,900 U.S. corporations, including virtually all of the nation’s largest truck carriers, all the Class 1 rail companies, and many of the top Fortune 500 companies, rely on SmartWay’s supply chain accounting tools and methods

“The Freight Sustainability Summit provided an opportunity to share technology innovations and

strategies that reduce emissions and improve efficiency, helping to move

our nation toward a more sustainable future,” Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, told Fleet Owner.

“EPA’s SmartWay program is a strong example of how we can achieve economic and environmental goals through good partnerships and incentives,” she noted. “Working with EPA, SmartWay partners are finding ways to move goods cleaner and more efficiently across our nation. This helps businesses to cut costs, increase productivity, conserve energy, support job growth and protect the environment.”

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