Trucks are a central part of the Australian economy, with over 30 per cent of all domestic freight transported by road. Yet all this distance means that trucks are using a whole lot of fuel. Transport is still the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Australia and without taking appropriate action, pollution levels are projected to rise by 12 per cent by 2030.
We can’t make our landscape smaller, but we can all work smarter to reduce emissions and ensure our vital industry is less harmful to the planet. As World Environment Day approaches, here are some of the ways the industry is helping trucks be more eco-friendly.
The green fleet of the future
Over the last few years manufacturers have been hard at work developing environmentally friendly alternatives to trucks. The hope is that as businesses begin to replace older trucks, there will be plenty of eco-friendly options on the market to choose from. Scania just announced its new line of trucks powered by natural gas, a fuel that emits fewer harmful pollutants than standard fuel. Hydrogen fuel is also making waves as an alternate power source, with Toyota debuting its first hydrogen-powered semi-truck in 2017. When processed by the engine, hydrogen fuel’s only by-product is water, making it an extremely viable option for the industry to reduce carbon emissions.
With innovation on its side, transport is spoiled for options when it comes to rolling out a greener fleet.
The move to electric has been widely adopted by the passenger vehicle market and discussed in the transport and logistics industry for many years. In fact, there are already some options available on the Australian market. For example, Hino currently offers a line of hybrid trucks that use a combination of fuel and electricity. Not only do these trucks offer environmental benefits, they are also low maintenance and incredibly quiet. Many organisations, such as the Australian Logistics Council, are eager to see electric vehicles become the norm. Businesses are already beginning plans to roll out electric vehicles, such as IKEA Australia, which is aiming for all its home delivery trucks to be electric by 2025.
However, there is still a lot of work to be done before the industry can become completely electric. Electric trucks require the right infrastructure to support the uptake, and charging stations need to be in place throughout Australia and have enough electricity for trucks to power up without causing black outs to nearby areas.
Building better habits
For those still a few years out from upgrading their fleet, there are still steps that can be taken to lower environmental impact. A good place to start is reviewing the Australian Trucking Association’s environmental best practice guide and developing a company-wide plan to minimise environmental outputs.
Another way is to stay on top of vehicle maintenance using technology. This is not only best practice, but also helps to reduce excess fuel usage. Investing in telematics allows you to track and monitor the internals of a vehicle to ensure it’s always fit for use. Fuel use, tyre rotation, idle time and fluid levels are monitored, and reminders are sent to management when a check-up is due.
Fleet tracking also checks that vehicles are used efficiently and that drivers aren’t expending fuel unnecessarily. Speeding, sharp cornering, harsh braking and other bad driving habits are unsafe but they also contribute to unnecessary fuel burn. Telematics tracks and alerts drivers whenever these behaviours occur, allowing them to correct themselves and be more aware of their habits in future.
There are challenging times ahead for transport when it comes to minimising its environmental impacts. But with the help of technology and an awareness that change is needed, the industry is headed for a greener, cleaner and brighter future.
Learn more about the global carbon footprint of transportation here.