The route to lower emissions

27 February 2013
As an express delivery company, by our very nature we spend a lot of time on the road so reducing our impact on the environment is very important to us. We set ourselves stringent goals to ensure we play our part to help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint as a whole. In September 2012, we began trialling new longer semi-trailers (LSTs) which, at 15.65-metres are two metres longer than a standard long-haul trailer. The longer trailers have a 15 per cent greater load capacity, which allows us to carry greater volumes and reduces our carbon emissions by 15 per cent against the standard trailers.

This government-sponsored trial was introduced following the Department for Transport (DfT) directive, which is examining the impact of such vehicles on British roads. The trial is expected to save more than 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over 10 years, with overall benefits estimated at £33 million over 10 years.

We’re only a few months in and we are already seeing improved efficiencies, reduced costs and, more importantly, a reduction of the impact on the environment. As a company and an industry as a whole, we must be realistic. Climate change is already well underway and although there is no way for us to stop this completely we can help by putting measures, no matter how small, into place now to help reduce the effect of our carbon dioxide emissions on the environment in the future. According to a recent report from the DfT, in June 2012, there were 34.6 million vehicles on the roads in Great Britain. That’s a lot of cars spurting out a lot of carbon dioxide and this figure only looks set to grow. Worryingly, greenhouse gas emissions from transport represents 21 per cent of total UK domestic emissions and, more specifically, carbon emissions from logistics accounts for almost a third of this 21 per cent. If we work together as an industry we can make intelligent and well thought-out steps to reducing our carbon footprint to make a real difference to the reduction of the UK’s carbon emissions. It is vital that delivery and freight companies, as well as regular drivers, make better-informed decisions about the carbon impact of the vehicles they purchase to enable us to meet our carbon reduction targets. We must all play our part to put the UK on the path to a low-carbon, greener future. This is a big challenge for the logistics industry but decarbonisation of the sector, and the country, won’t happen overnight. Although our use of LSTs isn’t a massive leap it will contribute to cutting our emissions now and in the future (as we hope to grow the fleet in the years to come). And, as they say, going the extra mile always helps. ☛ Simon Harper is director of operations for TNT Express UK & Ireland
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