Ships powered by skysails and solar, gas-powered locomotives and the use of biofuel are just some of the future technologies that could help to make the freight industry more sustainable, according to the South Australian Freight Council (SAFC).
SAFC believes that the freight industry has a responsibility to become more sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment.
The council has released a discussion paper, Green Freight, which is aimed at highlighting current industry efforts to become more sustainable, and discusses future initiatives that the industry could adopt.
SAFC CEO Neil Murphy said it was clear that the environment played an increasing role in transport and logistics and that action needed to be taken within the freight industry.
It is estimated that freight vehicles (excluding light commercial vehicles) are responsible for approximately 3.5 per cent of emissions in Australia.
“Green Freight involves the movement of goods in an efficient and effective way from paddock to plate, or from wharf to warehouse, in a sustainable manner that minimises our impact on the environment whilst maintaining economic growth,” Mr Murphy said.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean zero emissions, but rather, minimising our environmental impact and progressing towards more sustainable operations.
“Our Green Freight document not only serves to highlight some of the good work that is already being done, but also to demonstrate ways in which we can do better.
“We think some of our members deserve more credit and recognition for the ways in which they’re tackling sustainability, but there are also areas in which we think the industry as a whole can be more proactive.
“It makes good sense to implement environmental initiatives – it can reduce costs and can appeal to the growing number of consumers who are looking to support environmentally sustainable products including the way those products are transported.”
Mr Murphy said SAFC also wanted to help educate people about those things that may not look, on the surface, to be a more sustainable approach, but are in fact making a difference.
“A good example is getting the message out about the environmental benefits of utilising bigger freight units,” he said.
“A longer heavy vehicle may be seen as having a bigger environmental impact – but in fact a 13-axle ‘AB-triple’ heavy vehicle produces on average just half the emissions per tonne of freight moved compared with that of a smaller 3-axle rigid truck.”
Green Freight also highlights how improved driver training can achieve appreciable outcomes in reduced fuel consumption. It says educating drivers on simple driving techniques to lower fuel consumption can improve productivity and reduce environmental impact.
Other current technologies being applied include better aerodynamic design of trucks, better tyre management and the introduction of hybrid vehicles.
New and emerging technologies that could lead to a more efficient and sustainable industry include use of biofuels and synthetic fuels, and more intelligent supply chain technology.
Green Freight also canvasses more innovative solutions for the shipping industry including the use of ‘skysails’, solar power and nuclear power.
“We are not saying that you will see technologies at the port tomorrow, but they are available and under development.”
SAFC has listed the key priorities for its members, the industry and Governments to consider, including:
- Promoting the dissemination of Green Freight examples and case studies through its communications channels;
- Investigating the feasibility of a ‘virtual’ internationally linked Freight Environmental Applications Centre (FEAC);
- Supporting environmental and productivity gains that may arise through government plans, policies and regulations;
- Better informing the community of the benefits of improved access for larger freight units, such as larger heavy vehicles or aircraft;
- Considering industry incentives to retire old, less efficient equipment to be replaced by newer equipment that is more productive and offers better environmental performance; and
- Looking at effective sustainable heavy vehicle driver training.
A copy of Green Freight is available on the SAFC website at www.safreightcouncil.com.au.