The logistics industry in the US is a behemoth, responsible for a vital portion of the national jobs market and leading the world in financial value. In 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry was valued at $2 trillion.

This value – and the value of other industries reliant on transport – is being threatened by an issue which has been impacting the US for years, yet only been taken seriously in recent years. That threat is climate change. As a business owner in moving and logistics, what responsibility do you have with regard to the mechanisms behind climate change? Why should you consider eco-friendly practices in the coming months and years? And what might those practices look like, exactly?

men moving plant making move

A Global Crisis

Climate change is, of course, a global crisis – and one which has impacted other continents far more than the Americas to date. The globality of climate change has made it an easy-to-ignore issue for the US, having made polarized views on its impacts and even its veracity possible in our culture. The data, though, is irrefutable: global temperatures are rising, directly as a result of human-sourced greenhouse gas emissions and with catastrophic consequences for our present and future.

The primary mechanism for climate change is the greenhouse effect, whereby greenhouse gases trapped in Earth’s atmosphere effectively trap the sun’s heat on Earth. The most common greenhouse gas is CO2, a natural byproduct of many processes and the chief exhaust gas of fossil fuel burning. The US is a nation built on fossil fuels, making a transition away from reliance on oil and gas especially difficult.

Industry Responsibility

The response to the climate crisis is naturally a stratified one. On a global level, nations are coordinating international responses to climate change by signing accords and instituting new regulations. Next are industries, who are collectively responsible for pollutive practices in different ways – and on comparable scales to countries. 

Moving and haulage companies in the US and around the world are responsible for a significant share of industrial emissions, even if this share isn’t as large as major polluters like the agricultural industry. Perhaps the biggest intra-industry contributor is that of aviation, where international moving and haulage incurs tons of CO2 emissions via flight. Trucking networks have their own emissions attached to them – and even the materials necessary for packing and shipping logistics carry a carbon cost.

Sustainability in Haulage

It should be clear that sustainability is a serious concern for all businesses and industries, both within and without the US. Moving and haulage businesses face an especial challenge in pivoting towards sustainable practice, as fossil fuels underpin the primary modes of transportation which make logistics and haulage possible to begin with. Much of America’s travel infrastructure surrounds fossil fuels too, with recent breakthroughs in electric-powered vehicles being just that: recent.

This is not to say that meeting the challenges posed by climate change is impossible for haulage. Indeed, there are many possibilities when it comes to reducing a haulage business’ carbon footprint – which also bring ancillary benefits in the form of cost-effectiveness, operational/organizational efficiency, public opinion and legal compliance. 

The latter point is a crucial one, as nation states multilaterally move towards litigating against emissive and pollutive practices for the sake of a greener planet. Simply put, your business will benefit from being amongst the first to adapt to a new sustainable normal. But what can your business do exactly to make this a reality?

Sustainable Practices for Moving Businesses

1. Alternative Fuels

The first and most immediate way in which haulage and logistics corporations can acknowledge and mitigate their carbon costs is through addressing their use of fossil fuels. This means, essentially, engaging with the fundamental forms of transport on which they rely. If your haulage business is predicated on 18-wheelers, your carbon footprint will be defined by their fuel usage. Likewise, if you are an international moving company, you will be reliant on aviation and hence incurring a huge carbon cost in the process.

Your focus, then, could be on investing in greener alternatives to emissive methods of transportation. Air transport could be swapped out for sea or rail freight, while early investment in new electric trucks could be transformative for future carbon emissions. If you do not have the resources to make these investments, you could instead plump for a carbon offset scheme.

2. Optimization and Efficiency

While there are obvious benefits to tackling sources of carbon emissions directly – and potentially eliminating them altogether – this isn’t the only way a business can address its ecological impacts. Some proportion of your business’ carbon emissions will be unnecessary purely on account of efficiency – or, more accurately, inefficiency.

There are several ways to tackle efficiency as a moving business. Sourcing lighter and smaller packing materials from a wholesaler like RS Americas can help reduce weight loads or increase capacity in certain instances. Better route planning and administrative optimization can also be crucial for minimizing unnecessary journeys. Even establishing regional headquarters can assist in reducing the amount of travel required for a given shipment.

3. Sustainable Packing

Most moving and haulage services are more than the movement of goods. They also concern themselves with packing and packaging, which introduces a new angle for addressing carbon footprint. Single-use plastics in the form of plastic bags, saran wrap and bubble wrap can be highly environmentally damaging, as well as reliant on oil.

Luckily, sustainable alternatives to travel-safe packaging have already been designed and are already widely available. Cardboard is much more than a cost-effective option for packing, as corrugated and formed paper products can also absorb impacts well. Biodegradable plastics have also become a new norm, presenting another easily-recyclable material for the end user to deal with.

4. Logistics Innovation

Finally, it is important to acknowledge the future of haulage and transport in America and beyond. New technologies are reaching the markets each day, as evidenced above with new low-carbon transport methods. The future, though, might see innovation of a very different kind. With many predicting drones to be a key part of future logistics infrastructure, is it time for your business to consider what technologies it may benefit from in the years to come? Or what technologies it could pioneer?

We hope you found this blog post Sustainable Moving: Eco-Friendly Practices In The Moving Industry useful. Be sure to check out our post Eco Movers and Eco-Friendly Moving Tips for more great tips!

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