Smart Freight Centre Summary

Smart Freight Centre is a catalytic institution, created in 2013, that supports and incentivises the global freight industry to reduce emission intensity and improve fuel efficiency.

In India only 5% of vehicles are trucks, yet these generate 60% of emissions

Companies moving goods around the world by road, air, rail or sea are vital contributors to economic development, connecting raw materials, manufacturers and customers. Yet the rising trend toward globalisation and urban growth means these services come with a significant environmental burden.

Longer and more complex supply chains result in freight movements that contribute disproportionately to fuel use, CO2 emissions and air pollution. In India, for example, only 5% of vehicles are trucks, yet these generate roughly 60% of transport emissions. In many developing countries logistical complexity means that as many as 40% of truck trips carry no load whatsoever.

As the freight sector grows, momentum for smarter and more cost-effective ways to move goods between cities is building. Yet established solutions to improve sustainability continue to have low uptake and there innovation of better practices within the sector is rare. Inconsistent legislation between countries and a lack of pre-competitive collaboration adds to the challenge.

Bridging the institutional gap

Freight.jpgIn 2013, Shell Foundation partnered with Sophie Punte, a social entrepreneur with extensive experience working with the freight companies in Asia, to co-develop a new intermediary solution – the Smart Freight Centre (SFC).

SFC is a non-profit institution based in the Netherlands that will partner with leading freight shippers, logistics companies, equipment manufacturers, industry associations and governments to encourage the widespread adoption of sustainable solutions.

The organisation is unique in addressing three specific gaps in the freight sector by working to:

  1. Drive industry leadership ("Smart Freight Leadership") and take the development of effective green freight programmes to a global level by making a connection between them to maximise cooperation and alignment.
  2. Creative a universal and transparent way of calculating logistics emissions across the global supply chain through the Global Logistics Emmissions Council (GLEC).
  3. Catalyse the sector-wide adoption of proven and cost-effective technologies and solutions starting with a green tyre package in China through SFC's Green Trucks China project. 

n 2014, SFC recruited key staff, established a global headquarters and operations in China and started building partnerships across the private sector, government and civil society groups. Within a year they were selected by the Global Logistics Emissions Council (an industry association) to establish a global framework for freight emissions that covers all modes and regions, and to create platforms and labeling schemes around this.

SFC has also started investigating potential improvements in tyre technology and maintenance to reduce up to 20 million tonnes of CO2 that trucks in China emit each year.

The Centre has been working with industry partners to examine new ways to improve tyre efficiency to impact fuel usage and emissions, for example through telemetric systems, labeling schemes and incentives to leverage investment in tyre technology. 

In June 2016, the Centre launched the first global accounting method for emissions from the freight industry.  The method enables emissions to be calculated consistently at a global level covering road, rail, inland waterways, sea, air and transhipment centres.


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