The trucking industry is in a period of significant change. Much of this transformation is being pushed by technological advancements in telematics, data management and equipment features. Autonomous trucking is also making big strides. Electronic logging devices get more advanced than ever. Truck drivers and trucking companies have a lot to choose from when it comes to technological innovation
Another big trend is more of a social movement, but it’s having just as profound of an effect on fleets: the rise of environmental sustainability. Government officials, private sector leaders, investors, and many within the general public are calling for action to address the changes brought on by climate change.
Here at Quick Transport Solutions, we don’t take political stances. We understand that those who use our load board and website come from all beliefs and walks of life. Still, we must acknowledge the changes occurring in our sector. And whether you believe climate change is real or not, industries are beginning to adjust to the new reality, and that includes the trucking industry.
What Role Will the Trucking Industry Play?
Shippers and others in the transportation sector look at fleets to play a major role because the transportation sector is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S., and medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for one-quarter of those emissions.
In turn, fleets have responded due to a variety of reasons. Whether it is based on a belief that it’s the right thing to do, customer demand, or government regulations, fleets large and small have been moving into a more sustainable direction. No matter their rationale, the trend is clear. A recent report found that 83% of fleets plan to increase their use of sustainable vehicle technologies and fuel.
But there are other reasons to switch to more environmentally friendly fuel options than just meeting government or shipper goals. Trucking companies should also pay attention to the following factors:
- Meet sustainability targets and goals
- Increase appeal with their customer base
- Improve overall fleet performance
- Lower total cost of ownership
- Improve the bottom line
No matter how a fleet feels about the changing environmental and regulatory landscape, the rise of clean air regulations forces a rethink about how fleets do their job.
States and Cities Make Big Moves to Clean Up Their Air
When a fleet manager thinks of an emissions-related regulation that affects their industry, California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is probably the first one that comes to mind, which should be no surprise to anyone. It is one of the most well-known and most progressive clean air policies in the world, and it’s in a state that has a bigger economy than most countries.
What California does, other states follow. Many trucking companies who aren’t even based on California adjust their policies and strategies to account for Californian rules and regulations. This may seem like a massive headache but consider that a large portion of long-haul traffic either originates or ends somewhere in California.
What few people realize is how quickly and extensively mitigation efforts have been spreading across the U.S. And it isn’t just companies making big moves to clean up their emissions. This happens at both the state and local level as strong grassroots initiatives have driven government officials to act. There is not a state in the U.S. without an emissions-reduction policy, and there are hundreds of cities and municipalities that are creating sustainability and emissions-reduction policies.
The Private Sector Makes Big Moves in Sustainability
This change is about more than just government mandates. The private sector has become a major driver of sustainability. Why? Because a growing number of companies recognize that supporting the environment is not just the right thing to do but also makes good business sense.
Nearly every company in the S&P 500 Index has published sustainability or corporate responsibility reports since 2019. In 2011, only one in five of the same companies were publishing sustainability or corporate responsibility reports. These reports demonstrate a company’s commitment to sustainability and also increases the pressure to improve their performance because they’re sharing it publicly.
A supply chain study completed in 2020 found that the onus to make these changes is expected of trucking companies. More than 80% of all shippers are more focused on sustainability today than they were even three years ago. After that, nearly two-thirds of shippers take sustainability into consideration when they create requests for proposals and another 24% admit to planning to zimplement sustainability goals in the future.
It is also important to consider sustainability through the lens of financing. This same sentiment trucking companies are feeling now is also shaping the finance world. Investors of all types are now prioritizing lending for companies that create and sustain projects that protect the environment. The question now is, what can fleets do to prepare for a sustainable future?
Trucking Companies Turn to Biofuels
Should your trucking company turn to biofuels to meet your sustainability goals? Certainly, biofuels have come a long way from running your car on cooking oil. Today, there are many ways fleets can improve their sustainability. From optimizing routes to reducing unnecessary idling and using equipment with features that decrease aerodynamic drag – it isn’t difficult to add features or procedures that help save money and fuel all while burnishing your company’s green credentials.
One of the easiest ways to do it is to convert to lower-carbon fuels. And out of everything a company can do, biodiesel offers low emissions and an easy transition from petroleum diesel. Biodiesel is made from renewable resources that are typically waste or byproducts from other industries, including recycled cooking oil, waste animal fats and byproduct vegetable oils. It reduces lifecycle GHG emissions by a significant amount when compared with standard diesel fuel.
Utilizing biodiesel also comes with other performance enhancements, such as:
- Better Vehicle Performance: When an engine operates using better combustion and more engine lubrication, you get far fewer particulate matter problems that must be covered by the fuel filter.
- No Adaptation Required: Did you know you can use biofuels in conjunction with your existing diesel equipment without any required upgrades or adjustments to your current vehicle hardware?
- Better Supply Model: It becomes easier for fleets to stretch their renewable diesel supply and thus make it last longer. Refueling efforts don’t come as quickly when you use biodiesel fuels.
When you dig deeper into each of these factors, it becomes clear. It becomes easy to see how biodiesel may just be the best alternative to standard diesel fuel.
Biodiesel Provides Better Performance, Ease of Adoption, and TCO
Since biodiesel burns cleaner and produces less particulate matter. It reduces over all DPF clogging, regeneration, and wear and tear on vehicle components. It also comes with added lubricity. Diesel fuel blends that include even just 2% biodiesel are shown to provide diesel engines with more lubricity.
Biodiesel blends can be used in existing diesel equipment with no modifications required. No engine upgrades. No new vehicle purchases. The same is true for fuel infrastructure. Whether a fleet has its own fueling locations or is filling up on the road, biodiesel is easy. It’s also widely available. With biofuel sold in every U.S. state and internationally many truck stops and convenience stores offer biodiesel blends.
Fleets traditionally include fuel in their TCO calculations due to price and consumption. But fuel can also affect vehicle maintenance and performance, as mentioned earlier with biodiesel. Also, if you can win jobs based on your emissions profile — with the 70% of shippers factoring sustainability into their RFPs for example — then sustainability should be a new category as you evaluate your fleet’s total cost of ownership.
The Final Word on Biodiesel
Trucking companies of all types and sizes are experiencing the benefits of biodiesel. Trucking companies across the nation are growing their overall number of customers. They also grow potential customers because they focus on sustainability targets. Focusing on biofuels provides trucking companies with a way to point to their efforts towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.
The sustainability movement has brought great change to fleets in recent years. There are a lot of new “green” energy and biofuel providers who stand at the forefront of the cleaner fuels movement. Many of these established players are continually evaluating and improving every facet of their operation, with the result being high-quality, low-carbon fuels and a sophisticated supply chain to get those fuels to customers in the volumes they need.
Are you a fleet owner or fleet manager trying to crack the code when it comes to sustainability? Consider first evaluating the fuel you use. With biofuels coming a long way since their original development, they now represent a tried-and-true method to both save time and money but also burnish your green credentials to new customers and new recruits.