It’s incredible to see the commonality of headlines spanning across industries—all pointing to significantly higher freight demand. The cause? Like anything, it’s debatable, but in part, it’s due to substantial growth in consumer online shopping. As consumers shift more of their spending online, retailers are creatively vying for a slice of the pie. From flash sales to never-ending discounted prices and faster delivery times (of course, at no additional cost to the consumer), all put pressure on the trucking industry to deliver more product, faster.
With our economy booming and heavy-duty trucking on the rise, unfortunately so are transportation-related emissions—indicated by the elevated smog levels and consecutive days of unhealthy ozone levels. This summer Los Angeles experienced a record-setting 87 days of unhealthy air quality. For those not based in California, you may think this phenomenon is a “west coast” problem, but the truth is cities across the nation are suffering air quality problems of their own. In fact, 4 out of 10 Americans live in areas with unhealthy air.
So what can be done? What should be done? Of course, transportation isn’t solely to blame for air quality issues, but because it is the largest contributor with an increase in volume, leading corporations are in the hot seat, with consumers demanding change. Many brands have chosen to listen and specifically outlined transportation-related emission reduction strategies within their sustainability plans. The variant though, is how emission reductions will be achieved. Alternative fuel is an excellent option, and in many cases, the fastest way to improve air quality.
However, choosing an alternative fuel is more complex now, than ever: diesel (traditional, biodiesel, and renewable diesel), natural gas (renewable, compressed, and liquefied), hydrogen and electric. There is much to consider, and it can be overwhelming to determine which fuel is the “right” solution for your fleet. The commonality in evaluating alternative fuel types is that a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer. Instead, companies are benefiting from polyfuel strategies, recognizing multiple fuel types could have a place in a long-term fuel strategy.
A few considerations in your assessment of alternative fuels:
- Total cost of Ownership – Include available incentives and tax credits in your evaluation
- Maintenance Strategy – Insource vs. Outsource? Evaluate benefits and considerations for both options
- Infrastructure Needs – Consider your current and future routes, along with private site options
- Environmental Impact – Understand a fuel’s entire lifecycle, from well to wheel and disposal (which is yet to be determined in many cases)
As your company experiences higher freight volumes, be it as a shipper or carrier, consider your impact on air quality conditions in communities that you live and operate. Alternative fuel is quickly advancing in terms of adoption and technology availability, offering an environmental and economic business case. Just ensure you’re evaluating fuel options with your specific needs in mind—leading you to identify the best polyfuel approach for your business. Have more questions than answers? Reach out – we’d be happy to help.