4 mins

How to Set a Winning Transportation Sustainability Strategy

Jenny Vander Zanden

By

Jenny Vander Zanden
December 15, 2022

Share

We’ve all heard the cliche that football is a game of inches. Small advances and in-game improvements compound to create “stackable” wins. This is the proven way to achieve transportation sustainability success as well.

Just as every play in a football game has the potential to change the outcome, every truck, lane, and carrier in your network impacts your emissions report. Small successes at the lane and carrier level aggregate over time to have an outsized impact on your overall transportation sustainability targets.

To achieve lasting success in sustainability, you need the ability to identify these stackable win opportunities throughout your network and act on them in real time. And a comprehensive view of your network based on clean, actionable data is the only way to get there.

Pressure to reduce carbon emissions shows no signs of abating

Companies are facing pressure from consumers to curb emissions and waste: A 2021 survey found 42% of consumers have changed their consumption habits because of their stance on the environment.

In response, many organizations have committed to reducing carbon emissions. More than 4,000 businesses worldwide have voluntarily joined the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a group that enables organizations to set carbon emissions reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement and the latest climate science. SBTi holds participants accountable by requiring detailed greenhouse gas reduction targets and annual emissions reports, which it posts publicly on its website.

These public commitments leave companies searching for meaningful ways to reduce emissions, especially as alternative energy infrastructure increases. To deliver on your transportation sustainability goals, you’ll need comprehensive data on your entire transportation network that enables you to build a carbon reduction plan without sacrificing agility, efficiency, and resilience.

4 steps to build a more sustainable transportation network

Reducing emissions is a continuous process, not a one-time project. Success hinges on collecting network data that enables you to establish an emissions baseline, identify carbon reduction opportunities, and track progress over time. Here’s how to take action:

  1. Calculate your emissions baseline. The first step to reducing your transportation network’s carbon footprint is to understand your starting point so you can accurately track progress over time. That includes visibility of your network’s scope 3 emissions. External transportation management data and solutions providers can help you collect and clean relevant data to determine the emissions baseline of your network.

  2. Create a plan. Once you’ve established your baseline, you can move on to identifying opportunities to drive transportation sustainability throughout your network. No two networks are identical, so no two companies will have the exact same strategy. The route you take will depend on your team and the opportunities available to you. Remember, each emissions reduction opportunity may seem like a drop in the bucket on its own, but cumulatively they will have a significant impact.

  3. Establish partnerships. Explore opportunities to partner with new carriers and transportation professionals whose services and expertise can enhance sustainability throughout your network. A great place to start is with SmartWay, the EPA’s program for advancing supply chain sustainability, which enables shippers to view carriers with a proven track record of documenting and sharing emissions data. You can use carriers’ SmartWay scores to select capacity across all transport modes and equipment types while optimizing cost savings.

  4. Track progress and iterate as needed. The transportation industry is never static. As alternative energy infrastructure expands, you’ll have new opportunities and options to reduce your carbon output. Transportation management partners can help you monitor changes, make data-informed recommendations and track your emissions output as you add or reduce shipment volume.

Implement a comprehensive strategy to achieve transportation sustainability

Meaningful progress on science-based targets is possible in a short amount of time. Continuous, small improvements paired with larger initiatives can compound to achieve significant advancements in sustainability.

As we collectively work to curb transportation emissions, we can expect new technologies, fuel sources, and transport modes to impact our networks in ways we’re only beginning to understand. But with clear benchmarks, actionable data, and a strategic playbook, your team will have the tools it needs to identify and act on transportation sustainability opportunities throughout your network.

Want to learn more about how you can uncover new sustainability opportunities in your transportation network? Watch our session from The Mercury Group on how to reduce carbon throughout your supply chain.