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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its SmartWay Transport program in 2004, to encourage private industry to reduce fuel usage and greenhouse-gas emissions. The effort invites shippers, carriers and logistics providers to participate on a voluntary basis. According to Gallick, the goal is to reduce carbon dioxide output by between 33 and 66 million metric tons, and nitrous oxide by some 200,000 tons, by 2012. The resulting fuel efficiencies could equate to nearly 150 billion barrels of oil.
All three of Penske's major business units -Truck Rental, Logistics and Truck Leasing, are members of SmartWay. The rental and logistics arms are signed up as carrier partners, while leasing is an affiliate member. It acts as an advocate on behalf of customers seeking to restructure their private fleets in line with SmartWay objectives, Gallick says. "I'm proud to say that Logistics and Truck Rental have achieved the highest rating that SmartWay ascribes to its partners," he adds. "We're the only company within the truck-rental business to have achieved that level."
Penske had already undertaken some sustainability efforts, having set up to collect waste oil, used antifreeze and washing fluids for recycling or disposal at nearly 900 maintenance facilities. Expanding those programs "is the right thing to do," Gallick says. "Most of us in the logistics business feel that way. Our employees are excited about being part of an organization that is environmentally friendly."
Techniques used by the company to meet SmartWay goals include state-of-the-art equipment that conserves fuel and noxious emissions. Penske employs devices to shut down truck engines on pedal-stop delivery routes after three to five minutes of idling. In addition, it relies on alternative power units to run "parasitic" systems such as heating and air conditioning.
Penske's drivers, numbering more than 4,000 in dedicated contract carriage, have undergone extensive training in such energy-saving techniques as progressive shifting, cutting back on fuel usage by 3 to 5 percent.
The effort has translated into big savings for customers. One large producer of consumer packaged goods reduced its truck travel by 800,000 miles, or 5.5 percent, over an eight-month period of 2009, Gallick says.
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