In its continuing campaign to promote responsible environmental stewardship, the Environmental Protection Agency has again recognized companies and associations involved in logistics and transportation for their green initiatives.
Thirty-seven entities received the Fourth Annual SmartWay Excellence Award from the EPA on Oct. 6. The presentation took place at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibit in Las Vegas.
In alphabetical order, the winners include the American Trucking Associations, Best Buy, Bison Transport, C.R. England, Cascade Sierra Solutions, Celadon Trucking Services, Challenger Motor Freight, Covenant Transport, Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, Gordon Trucking, Hub Group, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, JCPenney, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Knight Transportation, Kohl's Department Stores, Kraft Foods Global, Limited Brands Inc., Lowe's Companies, LTI Trucking Services, MacKinnon Transport Inc., Menlo Worldwide Logistics, Mesilla Valley Transportation, PepsiCo, Quad/Graphics, Roehl Transport, Schneider National, Sharp Electronics, Stan Koch & Sons Trucking, States Logistics Services, Stonyfield Farm, Swift Transportation, The Home Depot, Transplace, UPS, U.S. Xpress Enterprises and USG Corp.
EPA officials say that the choice of the SmartWay Excellence awardees is based on their commitment, progressive action and innovation, as well as the impact of their example on the entire freight industry. Several are multiple Excellence Award winners, signifying their ongoing commitment to a cleaner environment by utilizing more fuel-efficient equipment, contracting with EPA SmartWay-certified carriers and providers, or in some other way that communicates the goals of the agency.
The concept for the SmartWay program began about 2003 as a method to foster environmentally cleaner, more fuel-efficient transportation options in the freight industry. Some 50 partners had joined the SmartWay Transportation Partnership by the time it was launched officially the following year. They included the American Trucking Associations, Business for Social Responsibility, Swift Transportation, Yellow, Roadway, FedEx and others. Today, SmartWay has more than 1,000 partners. A glance at the start-up partners shows that membership has always included more than just carriers. Any entity whose activities touch on transportation - including shippers; professional, advocacy or teaching associations; retailers; asset- or non-asset-based service providers; and others - is eligible to join. This year's slate of winners clearly reflects that. Aside from the obvious names of carriers, associations are represented by ATA and Cascade Sierra Solutions. Kimberly-Clark and Stonyfield Farm are among the manufacturers represented. And Best Buy, Limited Brands and JCPenney are retailers whose environmental commitment helps drive the success of the SmartWay program.
To date, road and rail have been the only transport modes that came under the SmartWay ambit. The agency is actively looking to change that by 2010. It has models, or tracking tools, for the ocean transportation and airfreight industries in development now. The tools are used to analyze and monitor energy use by SmartWay members and its environmental impact.
In its simplest form, the so-called "SmartWay brand" identifies products and services that reduce transportation-related emissions. EPA officials believe the impact of the brand is larger than that because it signifies a partnership among government, business and consumers to protect the environment, reduce fuel consumption, and improve air quality.
All SmartWay programs result in significant, measurable air quality and/or greenhouse gas improvements while maintaining or improving current levels of other emissions and/or pollutants, according to the EPA.
That's a tall order given how much fuel is used each year by the freight industry. The agency estimates that trucks and locomotives consume 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year, which churns out more than 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. By 2012, ground freight transportation's fuel appetite will exceed 45 billion gallons of diesel fuel, and production of carbon dioxide will top 450 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to the agency.
The goal of the SmartWay Transport Partnership has targeted 2012 as well. By then it hopes to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 33 to 66 million metric tons per year, and oxides of nitrogen emissions by up to 200,000 tons per year. The EPA says that will save the equivalent of up to 150 million barrels of oil per year. By way of illustration, that's said to be the same as taking as many as 12 million cars off the road each year.
After joining SmartWay, the EPA will support members by providing outreach materials, program and technical training, and networking opportunities. Access to a number of useful models is among the chief benefits of membership. For instance, the agency developed the Freight Logistics Environmental and Energy Tracking (FLEET) Performance model to help individual fleets assess current efficiency, and quantify the environmental and cost-saving benefits of various technologies and practices. FLEET provides baseline environmental performance data (CO2 and other emissions) and is used to track improvements on an annual basis. EPA aggregates this information to calculate the overall environmental benefits of the Partnership.
The SmartWay Technology Package Savings Calculator for Fleets is another model that members may find advantageous. Designed for managers of multiple truck fleets, the calculator provides an easy-to-use interface to compare the costs of various technologies. The user enters different values for fuel use, fuel cost, and other critical factors. In addition, the user can can adjust for the number of trucks, the gallons of fuel a company consumes, and the quantities for each technology one wishes to use.
Training and information is available on a wide range of practices, including idle reduction, improved aerodynamics to reduce drag of a typical line-haul truck, automatic tire inflations systems, driver education, low-viscosity lubricants, intermodal shipping, longer combination vehicles, highway speed reduction, weight reduction, hybrid powertrain technology, renewable fuels, preferential loading an unloading, scheduling and warehouse improvements.
A cleaner, more fuel-efficient equipment can be less costly to operate than, say, a "dirty" truck. However, many companies, large or small, may not have the capital to invest in these technologies. Consequently, financing is one of the most important benefits that SmartWay can offer. For instance, its Clean Diesel Finance program is designed to speed deployment of energy efficient and emission control technologies by helping vehicle/equipment owners overcome financial obstacles.
Last year, the EPA awarded $3.4m to support three loans programs to help small trucking companies reduce fuel costs and emissions.
In August 2009, the agency awarded $20m from the Recovery Act funding for the SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program to support development of new financing programs not only for trucks but for school buses and non-road vehicles and equipment. An additional $10m in funding is scheduled to be awarded in the future.
SmartWay also provides a financial clearinghouse web site (www.SmartWayFinanceCenter.com) with access to private lenders who help carriers obtain a loan for a SmartWay Certified Tractor, SmartWay Certified Trailer or SmartWay-approved fuel savings and emissions reducing technologies.
Through the site, one application can be submitted free, which is then distributed to participating lenders for consideration. EPA officials have stipulated that lending institutions offer incentives to applicants, and believe that lower rates or fees are available.
Quite aside from training, tracking models and attractive financing, officials at the EPA SmartWay program feel there is another important reason why companies may want to consider membership. No one can deny that the accent is on sustainability these days. It certainly is for the logistics and transportation industry. Pressure is building not just from government entities but from trading partners and shareholders to implement green programs. The EPA says that SmartWay Transportation Partnership gives one the tools to do just that.
EPA SmartWay, www.epa.gov/smartway
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