Alternative Fuel The Next Step Toward Green Logistics
International cooperation is the world’s best chance to repair the damage that excess emissions from past industrial revolutions have caused to the environment.
A striking case study is that of the European business association Lean & Green, which, coordinating with ecological institutions across the European Union, has developed campaigns to change commercial practices towards sustainable standards.
According to numbers obtained in a Lean & Green survey coordinated in Spain alongside the Spanish Association for Commercial Code, “The optimization of logistics processes is the main CO2 emission reducer (…), and the member companies of Lean & Green have pointed toward the current uncertainty in the use of alternative fuels as one of the main obstacles when companies seek to decarbonize.”
Where is this uncertainty coming from? According to the association, 47% of its members point to the lack of available technologies, such as electric car recharge stations and alternative fuel-powered trucks, as additional roadblocks in the way of CO2 reduction. No matter how many European truck drivers and fleet owners are interested in using alternative fuels in their operations, if a severe lack of infrastructure persists, they cannot easily invest in these sustainable technologies. Commercial pressure from energy companies or a simple lack of resources, either public budget-related or plain lack of the new technologies themselves, could be to blame for the scarcity, but is fighting for good alternative fuel usage conditions actually worth it for companies?
The Reign of Diesel and Its Opponents
Until very recently, diesel has been the number one preferred fuel for all commercial freight operations. As discussed in previous blog posts, the concept of sustainable logistics has moved some of the biggest logistics companies toward the renovation of entire fleets to allow for the daily usage of fuels such as sulfur reduced diesel or biodiesel. The options when choosing which green alternative will power a fleet are multiplying every day and now include natural gas, electricity, hydrogen, and dimethyl ether. In order to use them, their development has been supplemented with innovative efforts from auto companies to create hybrid vehicles that also considerably reduce noise pollution in urban environments.
Through the years, multinational companies have attained important success milestones when moving away from traditional diesel. An example of this is the 1600 million kilometers that the UPS alternatively fueled fleet managed to cover in 2017. In that same year, the truck manufacturer Scania reported a critical 40% rise in the sale of alternatively fueled trucks, proving a steadily increasing demand for such vehicles.
Their effectiveness, demand, varied options, and ecological benefits have been demonstrated through the years, so what keeps us from implementing this crucial aspect of green logistics on a larger scale? We come back to uncertainty, particularly for small and medium-sized operations, brought forth by the scarce availability of the fuels themselves, which cannot ensure continued, business-as-usual operations for all companies looking to implement them.
48% of Spanish enterprises continue to express a reluctant position when asked if they would change their fleet for an eco-friendly option, further proving that the only way smaller operations will be able to follow in the steps of companies such as UPS is if public interest coordinates with private efforts to eliminate the uncertainty factor through, for example, widespread implementation of electric recharge stations. Will it be possible to beat the still powerful diesel? Only time will tell; however, every day that goes by, ecology keeps an optimistic outlook of things to come while fighting tirelessly for a better future.