Towards more environmentally friendly goods transport

The goods transport sector is one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the human being. Specifically, it represents almost 64% of end-use petroleum consumption worldwide, highlighting the importance of making a firm commitment to preserve the environment. Also, with a view to guaranteeing a sustainable future for the coming generations, the European Union aims to reduce today’s pollution levels to 40% by 2030. It is obvious that logistics companies have an enormous part to play in limiting pollution emissions in all kinds of transport. But what can be done to guarantee more sustainable transport?

The road, the major pending issue

Asphalt makes it possible to transport goods to almost anywhere, and although air freight or shipping is more affordable for logistics companies on longer hauls, the goods must always be finally delivered to their respective clients by means of land transport. These are the main reasons for the enormous number of goods transported by road and, therefore, for the resulting number of emissions.

One of the actions that logistics companies can take to reduce polluting gases is to optimise and plan their routes, adjusting them to conditions of the shipment. In other words, organising transport times during the day to avoid traffic rush hours, choosing the shortest distance, etc., hence not only reducing the CO2 released into the atmosphere, but also making for more economic deliveries. In fact, at Bilogistik our truck fleet circulates on green pathways, environmentally-friendly infrastructures, and we look for routes that enable us to reduce journey times, with lower CO2 emissions.

As well as the actual delivery characteristics, logistics companies can improve their freight and shipment units, making them more sustainable and cheaper if transported in more aerodynamic trucks, or by using tyres with low rolling resistance.

In addition, different administrations throughout Europe are currently working on green road models, either using recycled materials or by applying technical innovations to asphalt with a view to making deliveries, and transport in general, more sustainable.

The sea, the cleanest option

The sea is an increasingly more interesting ecological alternative for goods transport. While it is true that maritime transport is the big favourite on international commercial routes, it is also one of the most sustainable methods.

To start with, the European Union is already putting means in place to ensure that the main ports of the European region will be connected by motorways of the sea by 2020. These maritime corridors between ports will greatly alleviate the major roads; they are devised to reduce the environmental impact of wheeled transport and offer an efficient means of transport.

Though not used for transatlantic transport, their application on shorter routes may represent savings for logistics companies of between 10% and 20%. Furthermore, this type of measure can be combined with other new sustainable methods, such as the use of liquefied natural gas in ships. This fuel type is the friendliest of all fossil fuels and, as well as not polluting air or water, reduces a ship’s CO2 emissions by up to 70%.

Other sustainable innovations

The latest technology innovations can also help transport companies in regard to their application in the sustainable transport of goods.

One example can be found no further than this summer when the Japanese company Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line) launched a new car carrier fitted with more than 900 solar panels developed to operate in adverse conditions, capable of generating all of the lighting required on the car deck. This is the first of the eight ships to be built by the company, which will make it the most sustainable carrier in the world.

This is not the only innovation; another of the improvements set to cause a logistics revolution is currently being developed by the Swedish company Volvo, in the shape of the so-called electric roads. These are roads fitted with electronic equipment, very similar to that used for trams, which will permit haulage trucks to reduce their pollution emissions to zero and eliminate the need for stops to charge batteries.

No stone must be left unturned in achieving ecological logistics that are respectful towards the environment and ensure its preservation for the coming generations.

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