Carbon dioxide, CO2 emissions, carbon footprint, carbon reduction, carbon capture and storage, zero carbon emissions. How many times have we heard these terms? Especially nowadays, human activities’ impact on our planet is becoming more and more evident and challenging. Among human activities, the environmental impact of transportation counts for about 37% of CO2 emissions. Of this percentage, a significant portion can be ascribed to the road freight sector.
A very simple molecule
Carbon dioxide, aka CO2, is a gas. Its molecules are composed of one carbon atom linked to two oxygen atoms in a linear structure.
It looks something like this:
CO2 is naturally present and is an essential part of the Earth’s atmosphere. The mechanism that regulates the balance between the CO2 free in the atmosphere and the CO2 naturally stored in the environment is called the carbon cycle.
In a nutshell, the carbon cycle is a simple process by which carbon is continuously exchanged between the atmosphere, land, oceans, and living organisms. The balance ensured by the carbon cycle is of the utmost importance for the preservation of our ecosystem.
The greenhouse gas effect, global warming, and climate change are all consequences of the loss of balance between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the amount of CO2 that the carbon cycle manages to store in different, non-polluting, forms.
Measures aimed at drastic CO2 emissions reduction in all sectors are already in place. The governments of many countries are taking action to reduce CO2 emissions. Incentives for low-emission vehicles, carbon pricing, regulatory standards and sustainability reports are only a few examples. To reach the goal of green logistics, however, is important to strive not only for a sustainable supply chain but also for a sustainable transportation solution. Implementing eco-friendly trailer technology such as solar panels, for example, is an effective way of improving the carbon footprint of freight companies.
As a matter of fact, committing to sustainability nowadays is not only a company’s moral obligation. It is also advantageous. Sustainability reports will soon be mandatory and will contribute to channelling investments towards environmentally friendly businesses. In other words, the more sustainable a company is, the more competitive in the market it will be.
As already mentioned, the freight sector is responsible for a significant share of CO2 emissions.
Many companies already started thinking in terms of climate-conscious transportation solutions to improve their carbon footprint and those of their clients.
Let’s see some numbers. There is a simple formula to calculate how many kg of CO2 emissions are produced by burning one litre of diesel. Of course, such a calculation is approximate and only based on estimations. However, it is enough to give a shrewd idea of how much CO2 a truck can emit.
On average, one loaded truck consumes about 3.7 litres of fuel per km. Let’s assume that a truck runs on diesel. You just need to know the ‘emission factor’ for diesel combustion. You can check it here, but we already found it for you: it is 2.68 kg of CO2/litre.
Average CO2 emissions = Fuel consumption (litres/km) * Emission factor (kg CO2/litre)
3.7 litres/km * 2.68 Kg CO2/litre = 9.916 Kg CO2/Km
So, a standard fully loaded trailer emits almost 10 Kg of CO2 per Km.
Now, imagine 10 Kg multiplied by the hundreds and thousands of kilometres travelled by each trailer on the road in one year. We don’t even need to make a real calculation to know that the resulting number would be huge.
Fuel efficiency is a good measure to reach carbon footprint reduction. Investing in trucks with optimized engines and aerodynamics, for example, can help cut fuel consumption by up to 10%.
Ship more, drive less
Optimizing trucks’ technical characteristics, however, is not the only way of improving fuel efficiency. It is possible to consume less fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by increasing trailers’ load factor. In other words, by shipping more volumes with fewer trips.
This is exactly the principle behindEmons Cargo freight concept 2WIN. A 2WIN trailer is a double deck that can load up to 54 euro pallets instead of the standard 33 pallets trailer.
Let’s make an example.
A company makes 360 trips in one year with a standard trailer to ship a certain number of pallets. With a 2WIN trailer, they can ship the same number of pallets in 240 trips. By saving 120 trips, the company also saves on costs, fuel, and obviously, CO2 emissions.
To precisely calculate its trucks’ CO2 emissions, Emons Cargo 2WIN uses an online tool called BigMile. This tool bases its calculations on several factors. Apart from the obvious ones such as kilometres and type of fuel, it also considers information like the weight of the payload, the kind of cargo, the truck engine type, etc.
Let’s go back to the previous example. Using BigMile, we calculated that in 360 trips, a standard trailer emits 164.520 kg of CO2. Moving the same number of pallets, a 2WIN trailer emits 109.680 kg of CO2, saving a considerable amount of 54.840 kg of CO2 emissions.
This example is undoubtedly clear, and numbers are always useful to give precise information. However, we are perfectly aware that, sometimes, to truly grasp so ‘volatile’ a concept as CO2 emissions, some more concrete analogy is necessary.
Let’s give it a shot.
In one year, a single tree extracts 25 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it into oxygen. In one year, a single 2WIN trailer can save a quantity of CO2 that is the equivalent of the work of 2194 trees.
Impressive, isn’t it?