Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the trucking sector are significant. Heavy duty trucks account for one-fifth of the GHGs from the transportation sector and 80 percent of the GHGs associated with freight, according to the Transportation Research Board.
Ocean Spray, the leading producer of bottled juices and juice drinks, found a way to reduce its carbon emissions from transportation by 20 percent, plus transportation costs. The company achieved the reductions through two initiatives: a distribution network redesign and shifting to “road-rail intermodal” – a popular method for shifting transportation from trucks to trains. A case study published by MIT and sponsored by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) details the two initiatives and their environmental and economic benefits.
The first thing that Ocean Spray did to reduce emissions and transportation costs was redesign its distribution network. The company decided that putting new facilities in Lakeland, Florida would increase efficiency and projected that over 17 percent of the total shipments will be served from the new facilities. The redesign, according to the case study, reduces the required miles by 4.5 million miles for delivery of the same amount of product. That saves an estimated 14,000 tons of carbon a year, equaling a 17 percent reduction. In addition, the redesign will save an estimated 10 percent of shipping costs by combining and reducing the amount of shipments and distance traveled.
After the Florida facilities went into operation in 2011, Ocean Spray “identified a road-rail intermodal opportunity from the east coast distribution center,” as the case study states. CSX, a rail operator, had already been transporting fruit in boxcars from Florida to New Jersey, and empty boxcars were sent back to Florida once they were offloaded in New Jersey. Ocean Spray partnered with CSX and fruit shipping companies to ship more of the company’s products intermodally from their New Jersey distribution center to their Florida facilities. CSX and the fruit shippers “were actively looking for partners to leverage this backhaul capacity to move products from New Jersey to Florida in approximately 175 boxcars each week,” according to the case study.
The environmental & economic benefits of shifting to intermodal transportation
The intermodal shipments represent over 80 percent of the transfer shipments between the New Jersey distribution center and the Florida facilities. For the 12-month year that ended in February 2012, Ocean Spray shifted 616 truckloads to intermodal. That shift saved the company 40 percent on transportation costs, or over $200 per load, and over 1,300 tons of carbon, a 68 percent reduction, equivalent to saving over 100,000 gallons of fuel or removing more than 180 vehicles from the road.
Expect to see more initiatives from Ocean Spray to reduce carbon emissions. As the case study declares, “Ocean Spray is planning to include CO2 savings on a regular basis to evaluate its transportation decisions.”
Flickr user, sskennel