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Sustainable transportation practices: Are you ready to seize the opportunities?

C anadian cities and resources are so geographically dispersed and we so dependent on trade that we demand a great deal from transportation. In fact, much of our country's success as a trading nation,...


Canadian cities and resources are so geographically dispersed and we so dependent on trade that we demand a great deal from transportation. In fact, much of our country’s success as a trading nation, and many of the advances in supply chain management that have driven that wealth over the past two decades, have a lot to do with improvements in how we manage transportation.

Consider Just in Time delivery of freight. From 1992 to 2005, manufacturers were able to reduce inventories as a share of shipments by 15%, a significant achievement that made our companies more competitive. But to do so required a lot more frequent deliveries, mostly by truck.

The amount of freight carried by for-hire carriers from 1990 to 2003 was up 75%. The number of tractor trailers registered in 2005 was 32% larger than it was in 2000. Our transportation system has more kilometres of roads per person than almost any other nation.

Transportation activities generate more than one quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Just as important, the transportation sector is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 28% of the growth in GHG emissions from 1990 to 2004. GHG emissions from transportation are expected to exceed 1990 levels by 32% in 2010 and 53% by 2020, if current trends continue.

The bottom line is this: over the past 20 years we’ve come to rely an awful lot on transportation to streamline our supply chain practices. The very success of our transportation system is what’s leading to its greatest challenge: its sizeable greenhouse gas footprint.

But as Gary Whicker, senior vice president of engineering services for J. B. Hunt Transport told the Same Roads…New Challenges conference on energy efficiency I participated in recently, “with every pressing issue there is an opportunity.”

We couldn’t agree more. The concentrated effort already being made by large players such as Wal-Mart, IKEA, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Home Depot, Doll Food and Unilever, and soon by many smaller companies too, towards more sustainable practices presents a great opportunity for motor carriers who want to differentiate themselves in a crowded market place. As research shows, when companies look to green their practices, they can’t help but look to their transportation suppliers for leadership.

It’s with this reality in mind that we produce our second annual Green to Gold supplement on sustainable transportation practices. In addition we have more information available online at trucknews.comand look for our upcoming e-learning initiative. Our goal is to inform fleet managers about the latest technologies and strategies being used to reduce not only the carbon footprint of the nation’s fleets but their operating costs as well. After all, for green projects to succeed, they must be based on sound business strategies.

And once again we profile the efforts of executives and managers who are pioneering sustainable transportation practices. As their experiences clearly indicate, if you take the time to do it right, you can turn green into gold.


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