Andrew ErnestOperations Associate, FourKites

At FourKites we believe the environment must be central to the mission of every business. We track two million shipments a day across sectors, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods, but every smart business has one thing in common: They’re all trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

In his annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stressed the need for every business to do their part to help curb the accelerating climate crisis.

“I believe that the pandemic has presented such an existential crisis – such a stark reminder of our fragility – that it has driven us to confront the global threat of climate change more forcefully and to consider how, like the pandemic, it will alter our lives. It has reminded us how the biggest crises, whether medical or environmental, demand a global and ambitious response.”

– Larry Fink, BlackRock

While many businesses may think that it’s just about reducing operational emissions or contributing to environmental causes, they may fail to realize that the majority of their footprint is a result of their supply chain practices. During the recent FourKites Supply Chain Leadership Summit, HP Canada’s head of sustainability explained that over 50 percent of HP’s carbon emissions comes from the supply chain.

That’s why supply chain visibility software is such an integral piece of the puzzle; with the right tools at your fingertips, your logistics teams can gain a clear picture of where your emissions are coming from, and how they can curb them. Here are just a few of the ways that supply chain visibility can help you achieve your sustainability goals.

(It should be noted, however, that supply chain visibility should be part of a larger sustainability plan. Any company can create goals for the sake of creating goals. But you must have both macro and micro views of how your supply chain operates in order to establish and reach realistic goals.)

Temperature Monitoring

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 30-40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States, comprising the largest category of waste in municipal landfills across the country. Much of this food goes to waste in transit, hurting not only a company’s sustainability efforts, but also their profits.

However, if you can track the temperatures inside a truck, the risk of wasting food dramatically decreases. Sustainability in the food supply chain has come under increasing scrutiny, as every bit of saved meat or produce helps reduce carbon emissions. And going beyond food waste, COVID has demonstrated the importance of temperature tracking in the pharma supply chain to protect valuable vaccines and other essential items. Every bit of reduction in waste means reducing your carbon emissions as a company.

Visibility at Every Mile

Maximizing visibility across your operations is the #1 priority when it comes to effective sustainability initiatives. FourKites provides customers with a free Sustainability Dashboard, giving customers a clear view of how their supply chain is impacting the environment. Teams can see the estimated greenhouse gas emissions from their freight activity, and see which modes are contributing to their emissions most. We launched this platform a year ago, and it’s currently one of our most utilized analytics dashboard, with over 70% of our customers leveraging its capabilities to reach their sustainability goals.

For solutions that offer visibility beyond the borders of your own organization, you can also leverage visibility tools that analyze how your freight networks are operating, where  inefficiencies are and potential opportunities to partner with others who are experiencing similar inefficiencies. In one customer example, Land O’Lakes and Coca-Cola collaborated with FourKites’ Lane Connect to reduce empty miles in their supply chains and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 6 billion metric tons.

Reducing your carbon footprint goes well beyond the road though, and most supply chain managers will tell you that the last mile often causes some of the biggest headaches. But that last mile is also a big driver of emissions due to trucks sitting idly in traffic or in the yard. Using data-driven insights to drive quick decision-making can help reduce this dwell time and its associated emissions.

Looking to 2040

The EPA projects that by 2040, shipments of U.S. goods will grow by a total of 45 percent. We’re fortunate to be living in a time of rapid innovation, with companies and new technologies committed to reducing carbon emissions, even in the face of this growth. One of our new strategic partners, Volvo Group, strives to lead by example and aims to have the world’s most sustainable in-house logistics system by 2025. Together with Volvo Group, our goal is to create solutions that drastically cut down supply chain-related carbon emissions.

Embracing green technology — from electric vehicles to machine learning-driven visibility solutions — and implementing sustainability strategies now will help you reduce your carbon footprint even as the shipping industry continues to grow.

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It’s impossible for companies to go carbon neutral without focusing on the environmental impact of their supply chain; but it can also be difficult to know the steps to take to achieve their corporate sustainability goals. This was our thinking when we launched FourKites’ Sustainability Center of Excellence (SCoE) in early 2020, and it’s what has led us today to announce our first-ever Sustainability Grant! We’re looking for motivated companies seeking innovative ways to supercharge their sustainability initiatives. FourKites will award the winner of the Sustainability Grant free access to our suite of sustainability tools — including Lane Connect, Advanced Analytics and Recommendation Engine for one year —  along with thought leadership opportunities and ongoing 1:1 consulting to help them attain their sustainability goals.

If you’re interested in applying for our Sustainability Grant, please submit a 500-word description of your sustainability objectives and existing initiatives in place to help you get there. All applications must be submitted to sustainability@fourkites.com by May 28, 2021. Winners will be announced by June 30.

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