What is a Carbon Footprint?
A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.
The idea of a Carbon Footprint is first to measure the total amount of CO2 produced by an organization or an individual person. Then try to reduce the amount of CO2 produced. Finally, the goal is to off-set the amount of CO2 produced by planting trees and using renewable resources.
Why do we need to reduce our carbon footprint?
Many of us have seen Al Gore’s recent movie, “An Inconvenient Truth”. The subject of the movie is how Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are having a detrimental effect on our planet, our weather and ultimately our lives. You may also have heard of the Kyoto Accords that were signed by many nations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing CO2 emissions will reduce global warming and it is something we all must be concerned with.
What is this going to mean for business?
Many businesses have already started measuring their Carbon Footprint and are taking action to reduce emissions. Wal-Mart for example has set a goal of being supplied by 100% renewable energy and to reduce waste to zero. Specifically, as this relates to logistics they have committed to increase truck efficiency by 25% in the next three years, and double it in ten. Why is Wal-Mart behind such projects? I suspect because they have calculated that with their fleet of over 7000 trucks that a 1 gallon per mile increase in fuel efficiency will result in a savings of $50 million per year. Being environmentally conscious is profitable!
There are companies that will not be able to reduce their carbon emissions beyond a certain point this is where Carbon Credits come in to play. You can buy Carbon Credits to offset the carbon you produce to reach zero emissions. Carbon credits are derived from emission reductions other people have already made, or by planting trees. For example company A has reduced their carbon output by 1000 metric tons per year. They can now sell “credit” to someone who can’t. The savings in carbon now has value and can be sold on the open market. This ensures the “real cost” of a product or service is measured in the amount of carbon produced.
Reducing Your Logistics footprint with SmartWay
SmartWay Transport is a voluntary partnership between various freight industry sectors and the EPA that establishes incentives for fuel efficiency improvements and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. By 2012, this initiative aims to reduce between 33 – 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions per year. At the same time, the initiative will result in fuel savings of up to 150 million barrels of oil annually. There are three primary components of the program: creating partnerships, reducing all unnecessary engine idling, and increasing the efficiency and use of rail and intermodal operations.
In Canada, the SmartWay program is partnered with Natural Resource Canada’s program called FleetSmart with similar goals and objectives.
Carriers and Logistics Companies who are SmartWay partners must agree to calculate and reduce their overall carbon emissions. This is done through no idling policies, aerodynamics, driver training and new engine technologies. The DOT’s SmartWay program helps transport and logistics companies achieve their goals by providing tools to help justify the cost/benefit of these strategies in terms of fuel savings.
What you can do.
Check out the SmartWay website http://www.epa.gov/smartway/
- Contract with SmartWay carriers and Logistics companies
- If you have your own fleet, become a SmartWay partner
- Put a no idling policy in place at your facility