There are a number of reasons why shippers should care about sustainability. Looking at its most basic definition, sustainability means practices that can be maintained over the long haul. And in the modern sense, that carries over to practices today that won't cause undue environmental harm and thus hurt tomorrow. For shippers, finding solutions that work long-term seems like a pretty good idea. On top of that, customers care about sustainability, too. That means they're more likely to use shippers who share that value and use sustainable methods. Yet another reason shippers should care about sustainability? While in some cases there may be higher upfront costs - though not always - environmentally friendly shipping practices often save money over time. Plus, governments care about sustainable practices as well and tend to offer tax incentives to companies who adopt them. And finally, aside from all those factors, sustainability is the right thing to do for society - and future generations.
How can shipping be sustainable?
While it may be difficult for shipping freight to be fully carbon neutral, shipping can be more sustainable by adopting certain supply chain sustainability practices, like:
- Using the most environmentally friendly freight mode (or modes) possible
- Choosing distribution locations based on proximity to allow for a greener network
- Opting for materials in the packaging process that are green and also efficient in design
- Ensuring containers/trailers are full to avoid wasting energy transporting partial loads or even empty containers
- Optimize routes to minimize travel distance and possible congestion
To expand a bit on these bullets, when it comes to over-land shipping, intermodal is the way to go to minimize environmental impacts. For even longer hauls - as in overseas - ocean freight far outdoes air freight. Sustainable packaging means choosing the right materials both to package goods and to ship them. With most of these points though, it really comes down to strategy, and having access to data to make your shipping processes nimble. The right integrated transportation management software (TMS) solution can cover most of these bases for you, allowing you to choose the right routes, strategize container usage to avoid wasted space, pick the right freight modes for your lanes, and more. All of this can be managed by a third party logistics (3PL) provider to take the burden off your team.
Do customers really care about sustainability?
Study after study and survey after survey has made it clear that customers care about sustainability in the companies they patronize. For instance, a UK-based survey by SmartestEnergy revealed 81% of respondents said they'd be more likely to choose a brand with a positive approach to environmental sustainability. In another study by McKinsey regarding fashion in particular, two thirds of those surveyed and 75% of millenials said they consider sustainability when making a purchase. As the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says, "Green and sustainable practices can make your company more marketable." As noted above, there are plenty of steps shippers can take to adopt these practices, and when they do, don't be afraid to share so customers can see you care.
Ready to make your shipping more sustainable? Our team at InTek Freight & Logistics can help! Drop us a line and we'll be happy to discuss solutions to put your supply chain on a sustainable track.
To learn more about freight and logistics, visit our Learning Center. And below, find a few resources to help you learn more about intermodal transportation, the most efficient over-land freight method: