Eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions

Traditional cargo transportation solutions didn't have the environment at the top of their priority lists. However, things are changing for the better. The environmental issue is something that many industries are tackling now, and the transportation industry is no different. That makes sense since transportation is among the biggest culprits for various sorts of pollution, CO2 and other hazardous substances emission. Luckily, people are becoming more aware of the impact they are having on the environment and they know that something has to change. Read on to find out more about some eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions.
Three large white trucks parked by the road
Transportation industry needs to be more environmentally aware

What are the options for cargo transportation?

Every successful company depends tremendously on their logistics. The goods and services have to be delivered in a timely manner, and that used to be all that the customers cared about. Nowadays, these customers are becoming more environmentally aware and they want to know that the transportation of their goods was done with the least possible impact to the nature around us. They are also more aware of energy consumption and global warming. With that in mind, let's take a look at the options for cargo transportation: 
  • Maritime cargo transportation - It accounts for 90 percent of all goods shipped from and to all parts of the world. Its advantages are that it is rather safe and cost-effective. The cargo ships can carry large volumes of goods too. One of the disadvantages of maritime shipping is that such transport is time-consuming. Even though maritime transportation is the least polluting mode of transport (per tonne of cargo transported over long distances), the sound and oil pollutions are still an issue.
  • Airfreight - The main advantages of this transportation mode are speed and global reach. On the other hand, it is quite expensive and not environmentally friendly
  • Railway cargo transport - The trains can carry large quantities of goods and they are a much greener option than road transport. However, they can't carry abnormal cargo. Plus, there might be additional costs to move the goods from the rail station to the final destination.
  • Road transport - This is the most practical option for short-distance cargo transportation. But, this mode of transport is highly dependent on road conditions and it is not one of the eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions (with the exception of the trucks running on bio-diesel and energy from renewable sources).

Rail is the most eco-friendly option

Environmental sustainability is a crucial issue nowadays. The experts from transportation and the logistics sector are constantly searching for ways to improve the efficiency of the transport while reducing the emission and leaving the minimal carbon footprint. They also need to find options that are cost-efficient for service providers and service users. Railway turned out to be one such solution. Since the cost of fuel is constantly rising, more and more companies are choosing this sort of transport for their goods.

Several rail cars transporting some goods, the cloudy sky above them
Railway transport is the fastest and the least expensive option for long distances

Trains can move their freight much faster and they are more eco-friendly too. As a matter of fact, the emissions of Carbon dioxide (CO2) are eight times less for rail transport than trucking. Also, trains can avoid congestions so they do not depend on traffic jams. The greatest advantage of rail is that it is able to transport large quantities of goods over long distances. In addition, the cargo train only needs two people to operate it (and it can even pull a hundred rail cars). We would need 300 trucks which means at least 300 truck drivers to transfer the same amount of goods by trucks.
The transition from trucks to trains is taking place at the moment, and we will see the results in the years to come. Let's add one more to the list of railway advantages - if you need temperature-controlled environment for your items you will most certainly find the solution in railway transport. 

Short sea shipping is also one of eco-friendly cargo transport solutions

When you can afford to be flexible about the time of your shipment's arrival, you should use the short-sea shipping option. The cost of this service is significantly lower than the same cargo transportation done by an airline. Besides cost-efficiency, short-sea shipping also prioritizes eco-friendliness over shipment time. That means that your shipment might not arrive ASAP, but the means of transport carrying it will not have a tremendous negative effect on the environment.
The roads in all urbanized areas are becoming more crowdy by the day. That causes delays in cargo transport and the increase in the emission of  CO2. The solution is in replacing at least some parts of the road with short-sea routes. Actually, that is what some carriers have already started doing.

Aerial view of a boat being loaded by containers for shipping; Boats are one of the eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions
Maritime transport is the most reliable, yet one of the most eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions

The good news is that even some smaller ports have started overtaking the shipments. That will shorten the times of delivery and decrease the impact on the environment. It means that some distances that are handled by trucks at the moment, could be conquered by ships.


Short-sea shipping used to be connected to Full Container Load (FCL). However, the option named Less than Container Load (LCL) is becoming more and more popular. This is perfect for smaller quantities of goods. If you want to send something that doesn't take up as much space, you don't need the FCL service. LCL is about sharing the capacity, so this option is both cost-efficient and eco-friendly. This can reduce the strain on roads which is one of the biggest benefits of LCL.

Choosing vehicles that use eco-friendly fuels is a step in the right direction

The vast majority of the vehicles used for cargo transport (some 90 percent of them) still use the oil-based fuels. But, there is an alternative and it is called liquid natural gas (LNG). This type of fuel is perfect for larger vehicles since the smaller ones do not have the capacity for storage. The recent studies have shown that the heavy-duty trucks using LNG emit 20% fewer greenhouse gases than those using oil-based fuels. As you probably know the greenhouse effect is to be blamed for longer and colder winters that we have all over the world.

Three high-tech windmills
The future lies in solar and wind power

Some more eco-friendly cargo transportation solutions are the vehicles using solar power (trucks with solar panels) or energy produced from renewable sources (bio-diesel and wind power). And that is the direction the road cargo transport should be going in. 

We thank the contribution of Lisa Roberts

How freight forwarders can lower their carbon footprint

As it is today, freight forwarding makes up about 7% of the world’s total carbon emissions. Now, this may not seem like a lot. But, if we are going to tackle the problem of climate change properly, we need to address it in every way possible. So, are there any ways in which freight forwarders can lower their carbon footprint? And if there are, how viable is it that they will be implemented? Well, let us take a closer look at this rather complicated question.

Fuel alternatives

The easiest way in which freight forwarders can lower their carbon footprint is to use better fuels. Now, this may sound easy on paper. But it gets really complicated, really fast, once you put it into practice. As it turns out, using eco-friendly fuel is not always cost-effective. Actually, it is almost never cost-effective. But, seeing as oil-based fuel is limited and it is bound to run out eventually, any responsible freight forwarder should be looking into fuel alternatives. So, what fuel alternatives are actually viable for a freight forwarder?

Gas station pumps.
Image 1. We need to find green alternatives to oil-based fuel in order to reduce carbon footprint.