Sustainability & Tech

5 mins

Your Transportation Team Is Already a Sustainable Operations Expert

Heather Mueller

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Heather Mueller
May 25, 2022

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Sustainable operations are more important than ever. But understanding the challenges and addressing them are two different stories. Many organizations struggle to translate lofty goals and good intentions into concrete plans of action.

If that sounds like your company, don’t panic. You may not realize it, but in the fight for sustainable operations, you already have a secret weapon: your transportation team.

From truckload to rail, transportation releases the largest quantity of scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stemming from indirect activities both upstream and downstream from a reporting company’s operations. This scope of emissions also contributes to atmospheric pollution.

This represents an enormous opportunity. If you empower your transportation team to create a framework for reducing scope 3 transportation emissions, they can pave the way to a more sustainable future for your company.

Reducing scope 3 emissions provides an opportunity for meaningful change

Scope 3 emissions make up 80-90% of shippers’ total emissions. Ten percent of these emissions come from the transportation sector, which is also the largest contributor to CO2 emissions of any sector in the U.S. Similarly, scope 3 emissions play a major role in an organization’s carbon footprint, so efforts to improve transportation sustainability can go a long way toward reducing the industry’s overall carbon footprint.

When it comes to scope 3 emissions, transportation industry leaders have an opportunity to create meaningful change. But laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future extends beyond environmental responsibility. Sustainable transportation and supply chain management also create competitive advantage by positioning your organization as a change agent for sustainability.

Admittedly, the prospect of reducing scope 3 emissions can seem daunting. Since these emissions fall outside the company’s direct control, they can be hard to manage, let alone reduce. And how do you turn lofty sustainability goals — like reaching net-zero carbon — into actionable steps? In reality, many business leaders struggle to translate big-picture sustainability goals to real change.

But with the right data and strategy, reducing scope 3 emissions is just as accessible as reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions. There are tangible, actionable improvements you can make within your organization that not only reduce scope 3 emissions, but also your overall carbon footprint. Tracking transportation data and the associated scope 3 emissions enables you to reduce emissions and track your progress toward corporate sustainability goals. But first, you need to build a framework that fuels action.

Create sustainable operations with a framework customized to your organization

When you sign a climate pledge or promise customers you will operate sustainably, actions speak louder than words. Before you can make real improvements in sustainability, you and your transportation team need to lay the groundwork by distilling high-level goals into succinct, actionable steps. There is no silver bullet for reducing scope 3 emissions, but there are several things you can do to take your first steps toward more sustainable operations.

  1. Establish ownership. One of the greatest challenges in embedding enterprise-wide sustainability functions into your organization is determining ownership of initiatives. Who owns the budget? Who has the authority to make decisions? And ultimately, who can implement these strategies? Your transportation team, who works closest to the initiative, will be a valuable resource. You should appoint an individual or task force in your transportation team to discuss and implement the sustainability initiatives. This approach empowers individuals below the C-suite to address initiatives in their respective areas of expertise, working toward the common goal of reducing scope 3 emissions.

  2. Incorporate sustainability KPIs. Transportation teams can easily add sustainability metrics to their existing KPIs like delivery time and cost. These types of metrics can range from greenhouse gas emissions per unit of revenue to energy consumption per truckload. Sustainability metrics can help identify areas of improvement to help your team to make data-driven decisions toward scope 3 emissions reduction.

  3. Ensure organizational alignment. Even if your transportation team is spearheading your scope 3 emissions reduction efforts, sustainability is still a company-wide concern. And while the need for sustainable practices is apparent to the C-suite as social and regulatory pressures increase, awareness is not always evenly distributed throughout an organization. Whether you hold a series of meetings or distribute educational materials, every member of your organization should understand the importance of scope 3 emissions reduction and the role transportation plays in these emissions. You must also be aligned on how the company plans to approach the initiative and outline the impact on each team.

Achieving sustainability goals requires a team approach. Offer opportunities for individual decision-making outside the C-suite and your incremental steps will result in significant positive change toward a more environmentally friendly future.

At the end of the day, transportation teams will be your experts on executing initiatives that lead to scope 3 transportation emissions reduction. But if you feel overwhelmed or you still aren’t sure where to get started — don’t be afraid to tap external expertise.

Schedule a demo of CleanMile today to create an actionable roadmap to sustainability that is unique to your organization and its goals.