In Europe, any discussion that concerns the efficiency of logistics operations will almost certainly touch on sustainability. Despite the importance of green supply chains, however, most companies struggle to measure the environmental efficiency of their own, and their providers’, transportation networks. A new initiative will help to change this by giving freight managers the means to evaluate environmental performance and exchange green best practices.
One of the main issues for European transportation buyers is a lack of common and comparable sustainability metrics. It is difficult to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions associated with subcontracted freight, for example. And the proliferation of measurement methods, reporting formats, and data requirements adds another layer of complexity to the task. How have you as a shipper tried to overcome these issues?
In addition to impeding initiatives to improve the environmental performance of freight networks, these hindrances also complicate carriers’ and shippers’ efforts to comply with their customers’ reporting requirements. Increasingly, companies expect suppliers to provide reliable data on their greenhouse gas emissions levels.
A new program called Green Freight Europe aims to address these issues by using market incentives to encourage companies across the supply chain to develop green transportation procurement practices. Launched in March 2012, the program was welcomed recently by representatives of the European Parliament and the European Commission. A working group of 70-plus companies that includes multinational shippers, carriers, and associations is in place, and the plan is to recruit 250 members by the end of 2012. C. H. Robinson is a member of the program’s steering committee and is leading one of the key working groups.
The initiative is inspired by the successful Smart Way® program. SmartWay was launched by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2004, and helps the country’s logistics community to improve fuel efficiency and lower costs. This is achieved by enabling carriers to reduce emissions levels and lower fuel bills, and to demonstrate these methods to supply chain partners. Shippers and logistics service providers can then select the carriers and mix of freight services that best helps them to shrink the carbon footprint of their freight operations.
Using European methodologies to meet its goals, Green Freight Europe is implementing the following strategies.
- Establish a platform for the monitoring and reporting of carbon emission to assist the procurement of transportation services based on existing standards.
- Promote collaboration between carriers and shippers, drive improvement actions, and enable the participants to monitor progress.
- Establish a certification system to reward shippers and carriers that fully participate in the program.
- Share best practices, promote innovations, communicate road freight sustainability improvements in Europe, and connect carriers with service providers and technologies.
Shippers, carriers, and logistics service providers that join the Green Freight Europe program will gain a competitive advantage from reductions in fuel costs, a smaller carbon footprint, and the ability to supply environmental performance data to their customers. Moreover, these enterprises will enhance their brands at a time when consumers are keenly aware and environmentally conscious.
From an industry viewpoint, perhaps the most important benefit of all is that for the first time European logistics managers will have the information they need to make sustainable decisions that reduce the environmental impact of their freight operations.
Interested? Take a look at the Green Freight Europe website. We would love to hear what you are currently doing or planning on doing in the future.