According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the trucking industry generates $604 billion in gross freight revenue annually; nearly 4 percent of the US Gross Domestic Product. And without the trucking industry, the US economy would come to a standstill. Harsh, but true. Today, nearly three-quarters of all freight in the US goes on trucks. But how is a transportation company supposed to grow when the financial burden is always high? The constant need for more, bigger and modern trucks, the cost of labor, the unsteady fuel prices are put against the environmental regulations, which puts even higher pressure on the industry. Fortunately, the EPA has a rescue answer.
The EPA SmartWay
SmartWay is a market-driven partnership between the EPA and the transportation industry that works with businesses and helps them move goods in the cleanest most efficient way possible. For the past 10 years, the program has been providing help and guidance to transportation supply chains for the improvement of their environmental performance over the years.
SmartWay is comprised of four components, designed as specific programs which aim to popularize the need for environmental protection and the use of advanced fuel-efficient technologies and operational practices in the freight supply chain.
1. The SmartWay Transport Partnership guides freight carriers and shippers towards the establishment of benchmark operations and goals for lower fuel consumption. According to the EPA’s explanations, potential partners in this program can be any retailers, manufacturers, distributors, cargo owners, and other shippers, as well as private fleets, commercial carriers, and 3rd party logistics providers. Partners can register for the program once they check their eligibility for one of the provided categories, where everyone has a role in the promotion of the goals of the SmartWay initiative, and complete a tool for their category within the specified time period.
2. The SmartWay Technology Program is focused on finding and testing the most suitable equipment for freight companies to achieve the set goals for lower emissions and higher fuel savings. Specific performance criteria are used to test protocols and performance of vehicles and technology in order to ensure lower amounts of air pollutants and higher efficiency of the fleets. The SmartWay Technology Program can point you to certain tire models that can reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, for example, or to multiple trailer aero devices that can save you 9% or more in fuel usage.
Throughout the past years, EPA has verified equipment in the following categories: Aerodynamic Technologies, Idle Reduction Technologies, Low Rolling Resistance Tires, Retrofit Technologies. If you are a manufacturer or have a specific technology in mind, make sure you check the verification process to get the SmartWay approval for your products.
3. SmartWay Vehicles is the third program of the initiative that identifies low-duty cars and trucks that have proved to be environmentally friendly and hence have earned the program’s approval and now carry its logo. Each year, the EPA examines new car models and gives them scores, based on the evaluation of their levels of greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions. The models that score better than average in both categories can earn a SmartWay Elite certification.
4. The EPA has developed specific resources and guidelines for other countries which want to improve the sustainability in the transportation of their supply chains and has made them available through the SmartWay International Interests. The transportation of goods across boundaries has made the implementation of a global initiative on sustainability a necessity. The SmartWay program works on the development of various opportunities for the initiation of Green Freight Programs in countries other than the USA, as well as any other tools for raising awareness on climate change, fuel efficiency, and energy security.
The desired goals of all four subprograms are to teach companies to measure, benchmark, and report carbon emissions with efforts to improve supply-chain efficiency and its impact on the environment. In 2014 the EPA marked the 10th anniversary of the SmartWay initiative. In case you are wondering how the SmartWay program has developed and improved throughout the years, the EPA has provided an overview of the program’s accomplishments so far.
For the past ten years, the SmartWay initiative has attracted more than 3,000 registered partners. The program’s partners claim they are glad to have a tool that provides a central resource for their companies which helps them in their continuous efforts to save fuel, lower costs and reduce adverse environmental impacts. Small and medium-sized businesses have received financial help to upgrade their fleets to cleaner trucks. Since 2004, SmartWay partners have eliminated 51.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 738,000 tons of nitrogen oxide, and 37,000 tons of particulate matter.
Solely in 2011, the trucking industry spent $143.4 billion to buy diesel fuel.
Since 2004, thanks to the SmartWay program, the EPA managed to save 120.7 million barrels of oil and $16.8 billion in fuel costs. According to the EPA, this amount equals staking more than 10 million cars off the road for a whole year. By helping companies reduce their fuel costs, SmartWay gives them the chance to spend more on labor instead and keep their employees satisfied and devoted to their work. According to the ATA, 1 out of every 16 people (6.9 million people) working in the US private sector is employed in a trucking-related job. This could be a lot more happy people behind the wheel!
The EPA has been open-minded about the program’s activities and is constantly looking for new ideas and collaborations on developing new and even better methods to achieve better environmental performance for the trucking industry. You are welcome to share some of the ways your trucking fleet has improved its fuel efficiency or the technologies you have implemented successfully in your firm!