Staffers running SmartWay, the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s voluntary program that promotes truck fuel economy and emissions reduction, have global ambitions and plan to expand their activities in response to anticipated steep growth in transportation.

SmartWay now deals with truck, rail and barge transport in the U.S., and is preparing to branch into marine and air haulage for “a complete freight footprint,” said Buddy Polovivk, an environmental specialist, during a webinar on June 24. The webinar explained its Vision 2020, a blueprint for building its reputation and outreach to increase fuel efficiency and cut “black carbon” emissions worldwide.

One overall goal is “to reduce carbon emissions before the benefits of regulations become available,” said Joanne Jackson-Stephens, the SmartWay brand manager.

Staffers, working with counterparts at the Federal Aviation Administration, are preparing a domestic air transport program to be ready for beta testing by airlines and air-freight shippers next year, Povolick said. Also being readied is a program for ocean shippers and steamship lines, using data and contacts from EPA’s Port Initiative.

SmartWay aims to be the global leader in Clean Air initiatives, and is cooperating with environmental agencies in China and countries elsewhere in Asia and Latin America, and hopes to enlist like-minded officials and private entities in developing countries, he said. SmartWay information has been translated into Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Portugese and French for use all over the world.

Staffers have been working with Chinese officials since 2009, Povolick said, identifying opportunities to increase transport efficiency there. For example, backhauling of freight by trucks is seldom done in China, and the return-empty rate is over 50%.

All three countries in North America are aboard the SmartWay effort, with Canada joining the United States’ program and Mexico involved since 2010 through its Transporte Limpio organization. “Mexico can set the stage for Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil, Columbia and Peru,” he said.

“We want to leverage the SmartWay brand” beyond its current use in the States, where green-minded shipper partners use the logo on products, packaging, labels and bills of lading, and trucker partners apply the logo to their vehicles, said Denise Kearns, an environmental specialist who hosted the webinar.

For instance, there’ll more visits to partners so more information can be exchanged and more progress made in transport efficiency.  

SmartWay also wants to engage consumers by educating them on the need to save fuel and reduce pollution, and offer them choices in products and shipping so they can become part of the effort, she said.

The effort is important because freight-shipping volume is expected to grow 45% by 2025 and quadruple by 2050, said Jackson-Stephens. That means more vehicles of all kinds hauling freight on land, in the air, on waterways and across the oceans, all consuming energy and producing emissions that induce Climate Change.

“We want to encourage more shipper cooperation,” she said, “and collaboration between shippers, carriers, logistics companies and consumers, all across the supply chain.”

Not much will change with SmartWay’s truck program, Povolick said, except that partners might be asked to supply more details on ton-miles and fuel use so EPA has a better understanding of transport situations.  

Organizations wanting to get involved can contact the SmartWay Helpline at 734-214-4767 or emailing SmartWayTransport@epa.gov.

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