How to Have a Greener Fleet. What Can You Do?

By: Michael Howe

The trucking industry is not deaf when it comes to the need to become more environmentally friendly.  The fact of the matter is that there have been significant strides in becoming a greener industry, and most in the industry acknowledge more can be done.  The challenge is making adjustments that are cost effective so as to not place undue burdens on the drivers, the carriers, and the customers.  Having said that, what progress has been made and what else can be done to have a greener fleet and industry?

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is an advocate for a cleaner trucking industry and highlights a number of the successes thus far on its website (https://cantruck.ca).  The CTA notes since 2010, “truck engines have virtually eliminated particulate matter and smog-creating emissions (NOx) from engines.”  Additionally, Canadian trucking companies operate the most leading edge environmental equipment compared to other freight transportation sectors.  Certainly, as technology improves, so will the environmental equipment used in trucking.

The CTA also points out that the trucking industry has adopted a wide variety of green fuel efficiency technologies.  These include aerodynamic trailer side skirts and boat-tails, auxiliary power unites to reduce idling, and low rolling-resistance tires.  As fuel efficiency increases, the expenses to trucking companies decrease and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions also are reduced.  Practical measures and initiatives to increase fuel efficiency are therefore supported by CTA.  “Fuel efficiency is a paramount bottom-line, competitiveness issue,” states CTA.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) also supports what amounts to a greener trucking industry.  It’s website (www.trucking.org) notes several accomplishments and policy goals along toward achieving that goal.  “With more than 300 billion miles traveled each year, the trucking industry leads on vehicle emission reductions and environmental sustainability. Over the last three decades, emissions from new trucks have been reduced by more than 98%. It would take 60 of today’s trucks to generate the same level of NOx and soot.

The ATA also says that the trucking industry has virtually phased-out harmful sulfur in the diesel fuel, practically eliminated sulfur oxide emissions, and significantly reduced fine particulate matter from trucks.  The policies ATA is committed to for a greener industry are those that improve the emissions profile, are technology-neutral, do not significantly increase vehicle maintenance, are thoroughly tested, and are affordable to all segments of the industry.

With trucking industry associations being leading advocates for a more environmentally friendly industry on both sides of the border, what can the individual trucking company do to have a greener fleet.  The most obvious answer is to be engaged with the local and national industry associations and help promote reasonable policies.

More immediate and impactful solutions for a greener fleet are varied.  Carriers can encourage drivers to:

  • Plan Routes – Always take the shortest route and avoid wrong turns. Avoid high traffic times.  Both of these will save fuel.
  • Avoid idling whenever possible. Fuel in the morning – fuel expands in the heat, so fuel when it is cooler.
  • Go paperless.
  • Recycle – every driver is able to recycle, so why not do it. Keep the roadways, rest stops, and truck stops clean.
  • Perform routine maintenance on the truck, such as oil changes, air filter changes, correct tire pressure, etc…Did you know that keeping your engine air filter clean can improve fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent?

Having a greener fleet isn’t entirely up to the driver though; the carrier needs to commit to this as well.  That means including this topic in regular a regular onboarding and training program, as well as during regular meetings.  It also means making investments in the technologies mentioned above:  aerodynamic trailer side skirts and boat-tails, auxiliary power unites to reduce idling, and low rolling-resistance tires, just to name a few.  These are technologies any trucking company could adopt to help create a greener fleet.

Great strides have been made by the trucking industry to become more environmentally friendly, and the industry is committed to doing even more in a practical and reasonable manner.

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