The Retail Industry Leaders Association, as part of its ongoing efforts in sustainability, has released a white paper outlining and recommending a range of strategies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of product transportation.

The two-page report was developed from a survey of RILA members and describes how retailers are implementing sustainable transportation programs in their business operations.

“Today’s customers expect stores to carry a wide range of products, which are manufactured in all parts of the world,” said Adam Siegel, vice president of sustainability & retail operations for RILA. “Product transportation, therefore, is a critical part of the retail equation. Now, more than ever, retail companies are seeking to measure, track, report and address the impacts that their transportation operations have on the environment.”

Retailers use a variety of strategies to address transportation environmental impacts, ranging from carrier engagement to deploying fuel efficient technologies and processes to partnerships and collaboration. Some ways in which companies deploy programs and implement sustainable practices include encouraging contracted carriers to participate in EPA SmartWay and organizations such as the Coalition for Responsible Transportation. SmartWay is a public-private collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the freight transportation industry that helps freight shippers, carriers and logistics companies improve fuel efficiency and save money. The Coalition for Responsible Transportation works with its private sector members in partnership with America’s ports to establish clean action plans to develop and implement industry-supported clean truck programs that are environmentally and economically sustainable.

The RILA study also recommends that companies establish route optimization technologies to minimize miles traveled, maximize trailer loads to reduce the number of outbound trips, implement “no idling” policies to minimize fuel use during loading and unloading and install hybrid fuel-electric engines that are more efficient than their conventional counterparts.

RILA’s commitment in the area is led by its Retail Sustainability Initiative, dedicated to sustainability in the retail industry. The organization, which counts many of the country largest mass merchants as members, has created the Retail Sustainability Conference, an annual event for the retail industry devoted to environmental education and best practices, as well as a Retail Sustainability Report showcasing RILA members’ sustainability efforts.

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