Supply Chain Requirements: Trucking and Freight Industry

Sector Name: Transportation – Trucking/Freight

SIC Code: 48-49


Major Players



Major Issues  

The biggest issues with freight trucking managing the truck emissions that are harmful to air quality.  This involves either reducing fuel use, increasing truck efficiency, or using alternative fuels such as biodiesel. In addition, for the trucking industry to become more sustainable, there would need to be significant infrastructure adjustments and a change in the aerodynamics of the trucks.


Key Requirements

All trucking companies must comply with the laws and regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Some of these regulations include accounting for the maximum number of hours a driver may drive per day, safety regulations for the trucks, noise emission standards, and meeting safety standards for what is being carried within the truck.


Key Certifications

  • SmartWay Partnership – Started by the Environmental Protection Agency, the SmartWay Partnership offers incentives to reducing vehicles emissions by improving “supply chain fuel efficiency”


Getting Started

To improve fuel efficiency, keep speed limits at or below 65 mph [1].  Studies have shown that this is the maximum highway speed where vehicles can get the best fuel efficiency.  Additionally, consider reducing idling when stopping to load or unload cargo. Replace regular mud flaps with Eco-Flaps to reduce drag [2].

To improve air quality, use diesel fuel, as it currently has lowest emissions for trucking.  Install low rolling resistance tires [3] and install LED lighting in both headlights and interior lights.  A very common, and probably the easiest practice to implement, is recycling oil and oil filters [4]


Going Further

Join EPA’s SmartWay, a national partnership that provides a forum for freight and logistics companies to share best practices on fuel efficiency and environmental performance. 

GPS systems, route maps, and preplanning reduce miles traveled and helps freight companies empty miles traveled.  Additionally, lightening the freight load, or better planning how cargo is loaded can improve loading efficiency for the delivery order, as well as even out the weight of the truck, resulting in fuel efficiency.

Consider installing automated tire systems, a tire with a hydraulic pump that automatically inflates tires with the appropriate amount of air to ensure tires are filled to the most efficient amount at all times


Advanced Steps

Support permitting truck combinations to reduce number of trucks on the road and collaborate with other trucking companies[5].  Consider investing in alternative fuel, hybrid, and electric trucks [4]

The next generation of freight trucks are futuristic looking, but aerodynamic and light weight.  Look into investing in trucks that may be designed differently, but will increase fuel efficiency.


Best Practices Leaders

  • UPS
    • Operates over 2,500 vehicles using alternative fuels and advanced technologies
    • Improves fuel efficiency through selecting vehicles for the rout they will receive the best fuel efficiency, avoiding left turns, and improved stops per mile
    • Uses telematics and routing technology to reduce vehicle miles raveled. UPS does so through: loads vehicles efficiently for delivery, rout and re-routs drivers based on the least amount of time and miles traveled using their On Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation (ORION) system, and allocates pick up and delivery times to minimize trips through UPS Smart Pickup
    • Purchase carbon offsets and is a SmartWay Partner


  • J.B. Hunt
    • Minimizes miles traveled by reducing empty miles traveled and choosing the most direct path to their destination
    • Reduces idling time through auxiliary power units and using radio frequency identification methods to avoid weigh stations and toll booths
    • Lowers Fuel use through training drivers, aerodynamic body moldings, and governing top speeds
    • SmartWay Partner


  • FedEx
    • Improving total U.S. fleet mpg by 14.1% since 2005, FedEx reduces fuel use through educating employees of most efficient driving practices, using hybrid-electric vehicles, and developing rout mapping systems
    • Has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund and participates in the development of environmental policies


  • C&K Trucking
    • SmartWay Partner
    • Installed software to track driver and fuel efficiency metrics and developed backhauls to reduce empty miles driven
    • Invested in engine retrofitting, new trucks, and larger trailers to increase efficiency of fleet



  • Nussbaum
    • Reduces drag though installing aerodynamic skirts and tails, and Eco Flap mud flaps on their fleet
    • Minimizes fuel consumption through company speed limits and Auxiliary Power Units
    • SmartWay Partner


  • U-Haul
    • Business model based on a truck-sharing model, with over 15,00 locations across the U.S. and Canada to save fuel and reduce GHG emissions associated with transporting empty trucks back to the pick-up location
    • Minimize drag through vehicle design, including rounded corners, low profiles, and advanced chassis skirts
    • Reduce their waste through efficient manufacturing facilities with the latest technology
    • Equip all trucks with a “fuel economy gauge” to encourage drivers to stay within the best speed range for fuel economy


  • Con-Way
    • SmartWay Partner and formed a consortium with other truck companies, environmental NGOs, manufacturers, and scientists to help the government develop new environmental trucking regulations
    • Set speed governors based on truckload, the trucks will not exceed the set limit ranging between 65-70 mph depending on the load


Key Resources  

  • EPA SmartWay
    • “A public-private partnership to increase energy efficiency and achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.”
    • Developed by the trucking  and rail industries in collaboration with the EPA
    • Provides advice and goals to achieve for improving efficiency and reducing emissions
    • Presents awards for environmental innovation and excellence. 




  • Trucks Deliver
    • Offers quick recommendations for reducing fuel use and GHG emissions


Key Words

  • Green Trucking
  • SmartWay Partner Trucking Companies
  • Truck Fuel Efficiency
  • Fuel efficiency standards



[1] American Trucking Associations: Trucks Deliver a Cleaner Tomorrow.  Recommendation 1: Speed Limits & Speed Governance.

[2] Eco Flaps: The New Leader in Mud Flap Technology

[3] Rocky Mountain Institute.  Mobility and Vehicle Efficiency.

[4] Cassidy, William B. Trucking’s Green Horizon.

 [5] American Trucking Associations: Trucks Deliver a Cleaner Tomorrow.  Recommendation 5: More Productive Truck Combinations

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