5 Ways To Increase Sustainability Today, Plus a Look at What's To Come

White electric Penske tractor-trailer drives on a sunny day.

Sustainability within the supply chain continues to improve, creating economic and environmental benefits for shippers and transportation providers. A wide range of solutions that can reduce carbon emissions, increase efficiency and improve operations is already available, and new solutions are on the horizon.

Solutions Available Now

Regulatory requirements, government incentives and corporate sustainability initiatives are driving fleets to adopt various technologies, solutions and business practices that make a difference. These include:

Electric Vehicles: Battery electric vehicles can reduce carbon emissions and help companies comply with regulatory requirements. There are various paths to EV adoption for fleets, including the use of light- and medium-duty equipment, which tends to return to base to recharge overnight, and yard tractors that can charge while drivers are taking a break or overnight.

Fuel-Efficient Diesel Equipment: Diesel remains an essential fuel in trucking, and OEMs have focused on increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions in Class 8 trucks. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s 2022 Annual Fleet Fuel Study found that fuel efficiency for all heavy-duty Class 8 combination vehicles has increased. Additionally, spec’ing the right vehicle for the application improves efficiency and fuel economy while reducing operating costs and the risk of mechanical failures.

Renewable Diesel Fuel: Renewable diesel fuel performs identically to ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) but provides environmental benefits with a well-to-wheel differential of 60 to 90+% in greenhouse gas production. Renewable diesel reduces particulate matter by more than 40%, carbon monoxide by more than 25%, total hydrocarbons by more than 20%, NOx by 10%, and lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 90%. Penske offers renewable diesel fuel at several locations on the West Coast.

Route Optimization: By analyzing various factors, including distance, time, traffic conditions and delivery constraints, companies can determine the most efficient route, which can reduce miles and save fuel. Technology can factor in real-time data, such as traffic and weather, that may affect a route so drivers can avoid or get ahead of issues before they create delays or further disruptions in the network.

Backhaul Loads: Trailers are often empty during the return leg of a truck’s journey after it has delivered its freight, but securing cargo for the return trip eliminates empty miles and potentially takes vehicles off the road. By maximizing backhauls, companies are optimizing routes and increasing efficiency.

Emerging Technologies

Equipment and technology continue to advance at a rapid pace, which is bringing new solutions to transportation and supply chains. Hydrogen holds promise for over-the-road trucking, and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency said two paths are emerging — fuel cell electric and hydrogen internal combustion engines. NACFE noted that hydrogen is not optimal for all duty cycles, but hydrogen fuel cell tractors are the only viable zero-emission solution currently proposed for long-haul heavy-duty trucks.

Additionally, legislators and regulators are investing in hydrogen production and fueling infrastructure. The State of Sustainable Fleets 2023 report said a viable refueling landscape could soon exist. Equipment manufacturers are continuing to test and introduce heavy-duty hydrogen solutions.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology are expected to enhance the supply chain by improving decision-making and increasing efficiency. Use cases include better route optimization, more advanced predictive maintenance and automated yard checks.

Contact us today to learn more about how Penske can help you improve sustainability — both today and in the future.