Managing greenhouse gas emissions

Transportation of goods is one of the largest contributors to Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 10.5 per cent of the national emissions profile. Trucking alone accounts for approximately 83 per cent of Canada’s transportation GHG emissions.

With this in mind, many carriers and brokers are taking steps to reduce or offset their contributions to the emissions.  Since 2012 in Canada, the SmartWay Program has been running to help companies increase efficiencies and decrease emission levels. Smartway is a program that includes representatives from all across the industry, including shippers, trucking companies, rail carriers, truckstops and even dealer service centres. The innovative collaboration between Natural Resource Canada (first done by the EPA) and the freight industry was set up to increase energy efficiency and significantly reduce GHG and air pollution.

Here are some of the things that can be done to help manage Canada’s GHG emissions:


Driver training for fuel efficiency

Driver training is recommended as a way to educate drivers on fuel efficiency strategies and why they are important.  Techniques such as:

• Limit speed where possible - traveling at 75mph consumes 27 per cent more fuel than going 65mph.

• Use cruise-control when possible - using cruise control can reduce fuel consumption as it keeps the truck going at a consistent speed.

• Use progressive shifting techniques - changing gears upward as early as possible when accelerating, makes overall acceleration slower but there is increased fuel efficiency and less wear on the engine.

• Maintain proper tire inflation pressure - properly inflated tires are safer and last longer, while improperly inflated tires can reduce fuel efficiency by 0.5-1 per cent.

• Decrease tractor-trailer gap as much as possible - a gap of 18 inches or more between the tractor and trailer can lead to increased air resistance.  Narrowing the gap can decrease fuel usage by up to 2 per cent.


Adjustments to equipment     


Multiple parts on trucks and trailers can be swapped out from steel or iron to aluminum to help reduce weight (up to 2000lbs). Many newer vehicles have these aluminum parts already along with smaller lighter motors (up to 700lbs lighter). A lighter truck takes less fuel to move or there could be more product moved than before with a traditionally heavier truck.

At highway speeds, the majority of the energy consumed is to move air out of the way. The use of aerodynamic accessories can help reduce drag and save significant amounts of fuel.  Additionally, the use of low rolling resistance tires saves an estimated three per cent of fuel consumption.


Managing idle time

A truck can have an average of 1800 hours per year of idle time, using approximately 5600 litres of fuel. Sometimes trucks idle for driver needs, heat in the winter, cooling of the cab in the summer and other cab related equipment. For these needs, there are auxiliary power units and direct fire heaters that can cut down on the amount the truck idles. When those are not an option, there is technology available that monitors the temperature of the cab, the engine and the outside and will turn on the engine only when necessary to keep temperatures reasonable.

Idle time can also stack up at a shipper or receiver. Sometimes there are long wait times and depending on weather and how often the trucker is asked to move around, this can also contribute to increased emissions that could be avoided with proper planning.




Sometimes emissions are unavoidable even with the best equipment and driver strategies. So there are ways to look at off-setting the emissions caused by transport.  


• Tree planting - pretty straight forward, logistics companies and their staff can plant trees or contract a company to do it for them. It does take a lot of trees to offset the amount of carbon emitted by logistics companies but every new tree helps.
• Investing in off-set projects - there are a lot of companies/ charities that take monetary donations and put them towards offset projects, such as solar, wind and thermal energy and improved cooking-stove programs in developing nations. 

Managing GHG emissions is something carriers should be doing to keep our planet healthy. Have you discussed options with your carrier and broker partners?


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Publish date: 
Monday, September 17, 2018

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