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How to make your shipping process green

01.09.2020 | By Katherine Stolin | 4 min. read

Green-ing up LTL: How to implement sustainable shipping practices

As an industry that relies heavily upon fossil fuels, freight shipping is a large factor in the conversation surrounding sustainability. Less-than truckload (LTL) shipping is often seen as the most 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 crisscrossing across 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 (even carbon neutral) 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 for the greener can make a big difference!

Use renewable shipping packaging

The shipping industry can take a lesson from the food 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 in landfills, 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 resource for finding carriers that promote sustainability is SmartWay. SmartWay is a program offered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It 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 firms that share their sustainability goals. 

SmartWay can also help you partner with firms that meet your sustainability benchmarks — whether that’s using alternative fuels, promoting energy-efficient supply chain practices, or reducing emissions in manufacturing or transportation processes. Flock Freight® is a proud SmartWay partner and B Corporation that’s making supply chains more sustainable. Flock Freight offers a shared truckload shipping solution — FlockDirect™️ — that reduces the quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent emitted by around 15-40% compared to standard LTL or TL shipping. When you ship FlockDirect, we pool your freight with other shippers’ freight into one multi-stop load.

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. 

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!

Opt for carbon-neutral shipping

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 carbon-neutral FlockDirect

Flock Freight is the only freight company that guarantees carbon-neutral freight shipping (at no extra cost) with FlockDirect — and, we’re the only logistics provider to offer shared truckload (STL) shipping. Here’s how it works. 

Each FlockDirect shipment moves with shared truckload (STL) service, which reduces shipping greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40% compared to LTL service. Then, we erase the remaining impact of FlockDirect shipments with carbon offsets in partnership with Carbonfund.org. By carbon offsetting the climate impact of each already-sustainable shipment, Flock Freight is the only shipping company that is fighting climate change from within the industry itself. 

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.

Flock Freight is the only freight company that is a certified B Corporation, in part due to the sustainability of our FlockDirect STL service. Whether your company is looking to go green, or on the path to net-zero, Flock Freight makes it easy to reduce your shipping emissions in a snap.

As a proud SmartWay partner, Flock Freight believes pooled freight is greener freight. Get started today, and see how FlockDirect can help you meet your renewable shipping goals.