Greener Transport Logistics: 10 things to think about when making your transport logistics operation carbon neutral

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Change is coming

Climate Change has been at the forefront of the conversation about Transportation for some time. Change is coming and we all need to be ready for it. With the possible exception of Brexit; carbon-neutral transport represents the greatest challenge to fleet operators in the coming years and one which is increasingly important to your customers.


It’s a change that you might not be ready for or might not know how to begin, at Hatmill we can help you get to grips with this and get your operation ready for a cleaner and greener future.

Changing to carbon-neutral transportation is big, but the benefits are clear to see:

  • reduced fuel costs

  • future proof against future carbon-based taxes

  • a measurable impact on Customer Loyalty based on brand differentiation  

Large operations with a significant financial resource such as Tesco, are taking nearly a decade[1] to make the full switch from diesel to electric and a ban in the UK on new diesel and petrol vehicle sales after 2030[2] make it clear that the time to start planning is now. You must not underestimate not only the size of the task ahead but also the commercial risks of falling behind.

[3]The UK Government has committed to making the country a ‘Net-Zero Emitter’ of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) by 2050 and as part of this commitment, there is a growing movement towards zones where a toll is levied on vehicles that don’t meet a specified emissions standard. The vehicle emissions standards take other types of tailpipe emissions including methane, nitrous oxide and particulate into consideration as part of the wider policy to improve air quality.

  • According to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association[4] there are at least 24 local authorities and city councils in Mainland Britain with a ‘Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ) either in consultation and planning or already implemented.
  • These zones will represent a significant additional cost to businesses of up to £100 per vehicle per day per zone entered. For example, a journey collecting goods from the centre of Manchester and delivering to the centre of Birmingham could add £110 for a non-compliant vehicle.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic many local authorities are delaying the introduction of their CAZs so now is the time to get started and get ahead. Whether your operation consists of hundreds of 44-tonne articulated vehicles or half a dozen small vans, converting your diesel operation to a Carbon Neutral alternative can seem overwhelming so we’ve put together a list of 10 considerations to help get you started.


Top 10 considerations


1. Assess your fleet’s efficiency – Is your fleet being operated as efficiently as possible? Is it being loaded correctly? Is it being driven correctly? Identifying issues like that now can help make the transition to Alternative Fuel Vehicles easier and can generate cost savings for you in the short term

2. Examine your planning – Is there excess mileage in your operation? If so then it’s currently costing you money in fuel and vehicle wear and tear – in the future, it could contribute to leaving your vehicles stranded while they wait to recharge or try to find the correct type of fuel station, so cut back on that excess mileage now.

3. Engage your workforce – Get them onboard now, your staff are your greatest asset so get them on board and use their input when designing your solution, they will know what a good vehicle looks like. Identify any skills gaps or processes that need to be changed and make sure your staff are trained to the right level.

4. Improve your oversight – How will you know whether you’re making the right decisions? Start looking at solutions for vehicle telematics that will help you to pinpoint the progress that you’re making and anywhere that your operation is struggling.

5. Investigate Alternative Fuels – Try to determine which is the best alternative fuel for you. Are you planning a location change in the future? If so then moving nearer to some appropriate infrastructure could make electric the right solution. Is there a hydrogen fuel station nearby? That might be the way forward. There are a lot of variables and several different options.

6. Research replacement vehicles – Consider the technology that is available today, are there any carbon-neutral vehicles on the market that have a suitable payload and range to fit into your operation? If you own your vehicles outright it might be worth retrofitting new filters to the vehicles to bring them up to standard or converting them to biofuel.

7. Assess your depot infrastructure – What infrastructure will you need to support these new vehicles? This could include different loading equipment, onsite fuel storage (or even production) or vehicle docking and recharging stations.

8. Explore marketing opportunities – As your customers become more environmentally aware and legislation moves on, they may want evidence that all stakeholders in their supply chain are doing their bit (look at how CLOCS* has changed construction in London). You can capitalise on this by promoting your efforts.

9. Set up small trials – It is advisable to try before you buy. Hire in a vehicle that you think might be ideal and test it for a few weeks, if there are adjustments needed then you’re not going to damage your business in the long term.

10. Create an implementation timeline – Don’t try to do it all at once. It can take several years to get through all of these processes so be realistic with your approach and limit the risk that you’re exposing your business to.

The change to Carbon Neutral transportation is big but the benefits are clear to see

  • reduced fuel costs

  • future proof against future carbon-based taxes

  • a measurable impact on Customer Loyalty based on brand differentiation  

It’s a change that you might not be ready for or might not know how to begin, at Hatmill we can help you get to grips with this and get your operation ready for a cleaner and greener future.

*The Construction Logistics and Community Safety standard (CLOCS) has had a huge impact on the way that construction supply chain and logistics operate in the Capital and increasingly across the UK so we’ll cover that in a future article to help you get the edge over your competitors.






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