Truck News


Editor’s Comment: Being Proactive About the Environment Pays

At this year's American Trucking Associations' annual management conference I had the opportunity to learn about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) SmartWay Transportation Partnership Program.

At this year’s American Trucking Associations’ annual management conference I had the opportunity to learn about the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) SmartWay Transportation Partnership Program.

Admittedly, from what little I knew about the program I was initially a little bit skeptical. I feared it was another EPA initiative that was all stick and no carrot for carriers. However, after listening to both shipper and carrier members of the program rave about the merits of this initiative, I have become a believer.

Carriers that are proactive about helping the environment have a huge opportunity to win in more ways than one as a result of this program.

Firstly, some major shippers are beginning to give preference to carriers that can demonstrate they have taken measures to reduce their fuel consumption and emissions. It could be something as simple as reducing idling or installing in-cab heating devices in company trucks.

Some of you are undoubtedly groaning right now and wondering why shippers should be able to dictate how you run your business? It’s a valid question. But consider this: Many large global companies such as Canon, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Ikea have taken it upon themselves to reduce their overall worldwide emissions. In many cases, 80 per cent or more of these companies’ emissions can be traced back to transportation. So it’s little wonder the bulk of the responsibility is falling on the carriers that move the freight produced by these manufacturers.

Their message to their carriers is clear: Clean up your act now or else we’ll find someone who will. And we’re not talking about any small amount of freight here. Collectively, SmartWay shippers move billions of dollars in freight each year.

This program is being aggressively promoted by the EPA and it’s only a matter of time before more major shippers jump on-board – after all, it’s very little skin off their back to join and they get to share in the glory of your accomplishments.

But in addition to keeping environmentally-conscious shippers calling your fleet to move their loads there are other benefits to the program for carrier participants. The easiest way to reduce emissions is to reduce fuel consumption and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize reducing fuel consumption reduces costs.

Carriers that have taken part in the program have admitted it has been the catalyst that has driven them to reduce their overall fuel consumption. Some carriers are saving more than $100,000 per year while increasing their average fleet miles per gallon by .5 mpg.

And those companies can proudly display the SmartWay logo on their tractors and trailers to show the world they are doing their part to clean it up.

As with many other EPA initiatives, this one spills over the border into Canada. Canadian shippers and carriers are allowed to join and when you’re talking about proactive carriers, it’s no surprise that Bison Transport has been the first company to take part on this side of the border. Kudos to them!

For more program details, visit

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at 403-275-3160 or by e-mail at

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