October 28, 2021

The time to stop talking about sustainability in freight and doing something has arrived

Sustainability is a listed goal for businesses large and small, and as is the case with almost all initiatives, every business commits and achieves their goals at a different level. As mentioned in our last post, we must act now to address climate change by enabling sustainability in freight. 

But action seems to be harder to achieve than one might think. One recent MIT study found that although 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and merely 25% have sustainability incorporated in their business model. Worse yet, a 2017 study found that only 2% of companies achieve their sustainability goals. Clearly, we need more doing and less talking, so what’s going on?

Engagement in sustainability practices

One big hurdle is that practitioner engagement is not consistent. The state of sustainability report by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics found that “As was the case in last year’s report, our current research shows that the level of practitioner engagement in sustainability programs is not consistent across industries. Supply chain professional engagement decreased the most in the manufacturing and transportation & warehousing industries." 

The report did however share the good news, that “...the transportation industry is most likely to use environmental impact reduction practices.” This means the industry is taking the first step in making a change, a good sign, but there is obviously a lot more to be done. In order to keep this trend moving forward and translate it into action, we need more resources designed to ease the burden of implementing sustainability measures. 

Size matters

The report highlights that larger companies are more capable of making supply chain sustainability commitments, but smaller ones cannot, usually due to cost. In addition, though many organizations commit to making a change, many do so without a concrete plan in place and others bite off more than they can chew. And of course, the pandemic hasn’t helped in this regard, “For the small percentage of companies that did scale back on their commitments, small companies represented the largest share: 14% decreased their commitment, compared to 6% of very large companies. This suggests that larger companies were able to withstand the disruptions of 2020 and maintain their commitment to Supply Chain Sustainability (SCS) compared to smaller companies.”

Investors & consumers are watching

If you’re still not convinced you need to get serious about sustainability, you should know that investors are, and they’re taking note. Per the report, “The pressure on firms to adopt SCS practices came from various sources...the largest year-over-year rise in pressure came from investors, governments, and international governing bodies.” Companies who want to make a real impact and continue receiving funds will do well to make real changes, not announcements with no follow-through. “Our research shows that while there have been bold commitments in the public sphere, there has been limited change in companies’ willingness to invest in SCS programs.”

If that isn’t enough to catalyze the sustainability movement, then consider this: Consumers demand a more sustainable supply chain. In fact, data from research conducted by Forrester found that consumers are increasingly interested in a companies’ values and supply chain practices. Of the customers who take time to research brands they shop from, 68% prefer to support brands that reduce environmental impact. In addition, a recent survey also revealed that 61% of purchasers are willing to wait longer for their purchase to be delivered if they know it’s better for the environment.

Technology is the answer

There is no excuse not to act. Technology that can go a long way in helping companies large and small achieve their sustainability goals is readily available. One such technology is SemiCab’s Collaborative Transportation Platform. The platform aggregates demand and supply across a multi-enterprise network and continuously creates collaboration opportunities for shippers and carriers to work together in order to eliminate empty miles, reduce waste, and increase overall network efficiencies. These collaboration opportunities are orchestrated by SemiCab and are available for companies of all sizes, which means all players in the freight industry can participate and they don’t have to change a thing to do so.

According to Jim Hartzfeld, Head of Sustainability, North America, for Brambles Limited, “Near real-time tracking and tracing of goods and transportation assets across multiple supply chains enhances product visibility, stock control, transport efficiency, and asset productivity—all creating more economic and environmental value.” This is exactly what Orchestrated Collaboration™ by SemiCab provides, the use of AI/ML learning to continually evaluate demand and supply and orchestrate optimal collaboration opportunities that consider pickup, delivery, and DOT constraints.

Change through collaboration

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions” highlights IPCC Working Group Co-Chair Panmao Zhai. SemiCab has had the goal of eliminating 30 million metric tons of CO2 from the environment since day one. And, we’re going to do it by eliminating empty miles to create new freight capacity without adding more trucks to the road while simultaneously creating $50B of new economic opportunity. Help us by joining the platform today.


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