Watkins Motor Lines recently joined the SmartWay Transport Partnership, a voluntary collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry. This formalizes Watkins' long-standing commitment to improving energy efficiency and reducing air pollution. In addition, it establishes WML as a preferred carrier of SmartWay Transport shippers.
As a participating carrier, Watkins measures its current environmental performance, commits to improve it within three years and submits an action plan describing how it will fulfill this commitment. With this undertaking, WML will reduce its environmental impact and save money by using fuel-saving strategies.
Almost seven million trucks and 20,000 trains transport over nine billion tons of goods, worth about $7 trillion, across the United States every year. Moving freight accounts for 20% of all energy consumed in transportation, and about 70% of all freight by weight is shipped in the U.S. by trucks.
Ground freight is responsible for about 18% of carbon dioxide emissions (a greenhouse gas that results in global warming), as well as 36% of nitrogen oxide emissions (which contributes to smog) and 29% of particulate matter. These pollutants have a serious negative impact on our health and the environment.
The goal of the SmartWay initiative is to eliminate 33-66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions per year by 2012. At the same time, the program aims to conserve up to 150 million barrels of oil per year, which will save money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Truck and rail transport consume more than 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually, producing over 350 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Some of this fuel is wasted with excessive engine idling, thereby increasing harmful emissions. Engine idling has an economic cost to carriers as well - it results in increased engine maintenance costs, shortened engine life, impaired driver rest and health and higher noise levels.
The EPA's National Transportation Idle-Free Corridors project wants to reduce idling at strategic points along major transportation corridors - at truck stops, travel centers, distribution hubs, borders, ports and even along the side of the road. Other potential fuel-saving strategies include improved aerodynamics in truck design, improved freight logistics, automatic tire inflation systems, advanced lubricants and engines, and low-carbon fuel strategies.