The freight industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gasses in the world, currently representing 21% of total global emissions. The push to go green has multiple companies embarking on a journey to offset their emissions and achieve climate neutrality. Some critics are skeptical of carbon offsetting initiatives but as organizational commitments to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) become more prominent, many leaders in the cargo sector are moving ahead with their plans, knowing that making moves to heal the environment is better than staying stagnant.
‘Our primary goal is to offset 100% of CO₂ emissions from every shipment and balance the impact,’ says Chris Randall, Vice President of Revenue at Freight Club, a subsidiary of eCommerce leader, Cymax Group.
The technology company provides shipping management software that allows patrons to compare LTL and parcel shipments rates, reduce damages, manage claims, and track shipments. In addition to the service, Freight Club has created a carbon offsetting program that enables both members and carriers to offset the carbon produced by their shipments at no cost to them (Freight Club covers offsetting costs).
With global emissions from transport increasing, is the push to go green an effort to save the environment or improve the image of organizations within the industry? Randall believes that for businesses who are aware of the impact their shipping makes, it’s more than just about branding: “It’s not just about appearing ‘greener.’ It’s about acknowledging that where shipping is today is damaging our environment, and until technology allows us to ship entirely CO₂-free, we need to find other ways to compensate for it.”
Finding other ways to compensate for the industry’s environmental impact is becoming critical as the Global Freight Trucking industry’s growth shows no signs of slowing down, being projected to reach 5.5 trillion dollars by 2027, at a CAGR of 4% from 2020-2027. Offsetting carbon is one method, and it can be achieved in many ways. Companies can choose options such as using software to optimize routes, opt-in for Electronic Vehicles, investing in carbon credits that promote wind energy and forest conservation, and many more.
Freight Club’s offset model involves planting the number of trees necessary to offset its members’ number of shipments. Unlike other services, Freight Club’s carbon offsetting is not an “opt-in” choice for members; it’s automatic and free for all. By doing this, they invest long-term in the development of forests that would then absorb CO₂ out of the atmosphere.
‘We do not purchase carbon credits because we wanted to offset our emissions by planting trees first in the areas impacted by the California forest fires,’ Randall explains.
“We ensure we calculate the offset accurately using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, the standard calculation used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies.”
In the future, Freight Club plans to expand its software capabilities to identify which carriers offer additional sustainability initiatives, like electric delivery vehicles. Such data can be an important factor for customers when they are choosing a logistics service provider. ‘Electrifying a truck is an excellent way forward for our carriers, but we need to make sure that the original energy source is also carbon neutral,’ Randall points out.
With only less than 1% of fleet vehicles being electric, offsetting carbon is a good starting point for a company with offsetting goals as ambitious as Freight Club’s. Still, Randall admits the industry will need to move away from fossil fuel, ‘As an industry, taking steps to move away from fossil fuels is an important long-term solution. We already see some of our carriers, such as UPS, making major commitments to fleet electrification. This is wonderful news.”
While making electrification the new normal in the freight industry feels like a far-out goal, offsetting initiatives prove to have other benefits besides just reducing the impacts of CO₂ from freight, “There are so many benefits to planting trees. From reducing air and water pollution to preventing natural disasters caused by deforestation, to strengthening biodiversity – we know that partnering with a trusted organization like
One Tree Planted will ensure the planting is as deliberate and impactful as possible,” Randall affirms.
One thing is for certain – while there may not be a perfect solution to the ongoing climate crisis, there are ways for the freight industry to help. Initiatives such as carbon offsetting and electrification can only have positives effects, whether those effects are seen in CO₂ emissions or in additional benefits, such as in the case of planting trees. ✷