Revolution in Creative Logistics Drives Leaner, Greener, More Cost-Effective Supply Chain

February 17, 2012
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BOSTON, Mass.– New technology and thinking are unlocking a raft of previously unattainable economic and environmental efficiencies in the vast commercial shipping industry, according to the “Smart Moves” report released this week by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to kick off a new collaborative with logistics providers, shippers and other experts. The initiative is designed to accelerate the adoption of industry-leading best practices.

“Transport and logistics providers and the companies they work for are looking beyond traditional measures, across multiple modes and competitive boundaries for creative ways to save fuel, cut costs, and improve environmental performance,” said Jason Mathers, who leads the EDF initiative. “Our role is bringing together leading innovators from different sectors to catalog and quantify the results, and spread the best solutions as far and fast as possible.”

Building on transportation success stories that include partnerships with Walmart, FedEx and others, EDF experts will be working closely with a select group of shippers, transportation companies and academic researchers to develop, demonstrate and disseminate better, cheaper, less emissions-intensive ways to transport commercial cargo of all kinds.

“At any given moment there are more than 50 million tons of freight moving on Americas roads, rails, rivers and airways, and nearly all of it could be moving on less fuel and fewer emissions,” Mathers said. “Streamlining is a continuous opportunity, not a one-time deal. The key is breaking down old walls and embracing new ways of getting all that stuff from A to B.”

Company solutions discussed in the report include:

  • A retailer utilizing rail instead of trucks to move goods from warehouse to stores, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and cutting carbon emissions by over 40 percent;
  • Competing candy companies using a collaborative distribution model with the potential to slash costs by more than 30 percent and increase carbon efficiency by 25 percent;
  • Smarter load management strategies that helped a major dairy company save $7.5 million a year, and helped a national food company eliminate 6.2 million miles worth of truck trips.

Transportation accounts for 89 percent of the environmental footprint of supply chain logistics. Studies show that collaborative strategies like these can reduce costs by more than 30 percent and increase carbon efficiency by 25 percent. All told, global freight transportation and distribution account for nearly three billion metric tons of carbon emissions each year.

The report, “Smart Moves: Creative Supply Chain Strategies Are Cutting Transport Costs and Emissions,” can be found online at edf.org/smartmoves.