ESG – moving towards net zero in freight transport

IFL truck on motorway – photo by James Emberton

With decarbonisation targets in place for 2030 and net zero by 2050, environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are rising up the agenda for businesses, customers and the firms who transport their goods around the world.

Large operators and shipping companies are already requesting sustainability and ESG-related data in order to fulfil their reporting requirements.

IFL has spent a total of £500,000 on fleet upgrades in the past two years (see latest investment, also pictured below) to reduce its carbon emissions. Switching to lower carbon forms of transport is part of an ongoing programme of improvements.

New DAF trucks for IFL

But while government targets ultimately require greener transport, upgrades are just one part of creating a more carbon-efficient system.

Carbon reduction means working together

Freight networks, for example, enable member firms to transport goods as efficiently as possible, optimising capacity and reducing the empty running of trucks. IFL has been a member of the Palletways network since 1992 and a significant proportion of our UK and European freight is moved through the network. Using a pallet network, CO2 emissions are usually much lower per pallet since running at capacity maximises efficiency.

Side view of livery and new DAF tractor unit

Investing in and operating the newest Euro 6 standard trucks (pictured) also helps attract drivers, improve safety, increase fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance costs. With massive growth in the home delivery sector and an ongoing driver shortage, it is more important than ever to improve transport efficiency in the freight sector.

Other business and industry initiatives include restructuring the supply chain to reduce shipping miles, collaborating to consolidate orders and delivery points, making sustainability part of supply chain criteria, and measuring carbon emissions through transport.

Calculating customer carbon emissions

Measuring carbon emissions per pallet from palletised freight transport isn’t easy due to the variety of vehicles used and varying load volumes.

For example, if an articulated truck gives around 10mpg and an 18-tonne rigid truck around 15mpg, you can use a carbon footprint calculator – such as this one – to produce a CO2 emissions figure based on the amount of fuel used, cost of fuel or the mileage.

However, since most trunking between depots in the Palletways network takes place on double decker trailers, you would need to factor this in also. Double deckers carry an average capacity of 50 pallets while a standard trailer has capacity of 26 pallets – halving the CO2 produced per pallet in comparison.

Running at capacity makes everything as efficient as possible. Ultimately, the higher the load volume, the lower the CO2 per pallet – and vice versa.

Technology, data tools and reporting frameworks have some way to go to be able to produce standardised emissions data. But ESG-related analytics are growing in importance. They can help businesses track scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions across the supply chain, adapt to increased scrutiny and environmental regulation, and generally run operations more efficiently.

Further reading:

Further information

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