Green-ing Up LTL: How to Implement Sustainable Shipping Practices
As an industry relying heavily upon fossil fuels, freight shipping is a large factor in the conversation surrounding sustainability. Shipping LTL is often the most efficient and cost-effective means of transporting goods from place to place. Unfortunately, it also includes tons of boxes being used and discarded, with gasoline-powered trucks criss-crossing the country to and from terminals—both of which have harmful and lasting effects on the environment. With climate change top of mind across the country, it’s the perfect moment for the shipping industry to reevaluate its practices and find ways to reduce its environmental impact.
But short of investing in your own electric fleet, what’s an LTL freight shipper to do? The good news is, you can participate in sustainable freight transportation, no matter what goods you ship. By implementing just a few green shipping practices to your freight system, you’ll reduce your company’s environmental impact in a major way… and potentially help your bottom line at the same time. Even a single change can make a big difference!
Use Renewable Shipping Packaging
The shipping industry can take a lesson from the service industry: Ditch the hazardous, non-recyclable packing materials in favor of green shipping materials. Non-biodegradable items like foam packing peanuts take hundreds of years to break down, and printed labels leach their ink and glue into the earth, poisoning surrounding plant and animal life.
Making the switch to renewable, biodegradable materials is one of the fastest changes you can implement to start using green shipping practices. Consider adopting some (or all!) of the following materials into your supply chain:
- Boxes made from recycled paper or other materials
- Corrugated cardboard, which is easily recycled
- Shredded paper in place of packing peanuts
- Micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC), made of renewable plant materials
Choose renewable materials, reduce your carbon footprint, and take a big step forward toward becoming a sustainable business.
Choose Sustainable Partners
Whether you’re a shipper or carrier, don’t underestimate the influence you have on your partner’s business models! You have something your partners rely on for their own companies: money. Your business keeps your freight partner profitable, so by offering your hard-earned budget to sustainable shipping businesses, you provide an incentive to those that haven’t yet turned to renewable shipping solutions to do so.
One way to find carriers aligned with your sustainability efforts is using SmartWay, a program offered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). SmartWay tracks and measures emissions output, fuel efficiency, and other environmental data across the shipping industry in order to further green shipping efforts. Companies that have joined SmartWay provide hard data about their freight practices, giving shippers a concrete way to identify companies that meet their preferred eco-friendly benchmarks—whether that’s using alternative fuels, prioritizing energy efficiency in their supply chain, or reducing CO2 emissions in their manufacturing or transport processes.
You can register as a SmartWay shipping or carrier partner to research companies that put sustainable freight transportation at the center of their own shipping practices, and thereby feel good about where your dollars (and pallets) go.
P.S.—Flock Freight is a proud SmartWay partner!
Switch to Lightweight Trucks
If you’re a carrier looking to reduce your costs and your greenhouse gases, transitioning to lightweight trucks can help you make big strides toward sustainable shipping. Lightweight trucks typically use less fuel to cover the same distance, and can also transport more freight per truck—which in turn means fewer trips to transport any given shipment. And both of these attributes result in lower fuel costs overall. So you can save the planet and save money at the same time… it’s a win-win!
Ship via Hubless Pooling
LTL shipping, by nature, involves multiple trucks loading and unloading freight at hub-and-spoke facilities, often on inefficient routes. This method leads to more fuel consumption — and, therefore, greenhouse gas emissions — than necessary. But what do you do if you don’t have your own fleet and you don’t have enough freight to fill an entire truck?
The solution: Move your shipments via shared truckload (STL) service and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40%.
Flock Freight is the only freight company that is a certified B Corporation, in part due to the sustainability of our FlockDirect STL service. (We’re also the only logistics provider to offer shared truckload shipping.) Our proprietary algorithms enable this sustainable freight mode by identifying and pooling shipments that are moving along the same route into one load-to-ride shared truckload. STL shipping is an environmentally responsible alternative to LTL service because shipments move directly to their destinations, reducing overall miles traveled, slashing unnecessary carbon emissions, and avoiding energy-consuming terminals. And since freight remains on the truck from pickup to delivery, there’s virtually zero risk of damage or loss — removing the environmental harm of remanufacturing and reshipping broken goods.