SmartWay Marks a Decade of Improving Fuel Economy
By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the Feb. 24 print edition of Transport Topics.
In the beginning, it was just a germ of an idea among some trucking leaders and environmental regulators: Improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions in the freight-transportation sector by forging a voluntary partnership between government, trucking and shippers.
The result was SmartWay, which turned 10 years old this month. The program has grown from 15 charter partners to thousands of carriers, shippers, retailers, logistics companies, manufacturers and railroads. And, according to EPA, it has saved millions of barrels of oil.
SmartWay was launched in February 2004 by the Environmental Protection Agency, American Trucking Associations and a group of shippers at ATA’s winter leadership meeting.
By then, the 15 charter partners already had spent two years ironing out their differences and developing the formulas and reporting systems that measure a carrier’s fuel use and emissions.
Mike Kelley, chief of sustainability at YRC Worldwide Inc., said he didn’t realize back then how popular SmartWay would become.
“Now every year, over 2,000 trucking companies sit down and do . . . a very good specific assessment that calculates fuel mileage and different practices . . . to determine if they’ve progressed on their sustainability goals or emissions reduction goals,” Kelley said. “And it’s not like filing a tax return; they don’t have to do it, but they want to.”
At the time, Kelley was representing a charter partner, Yellow Transportation, which later merged with another charter partner, Roadway Express, to become YRC Worldwide, based in Overland Park, Kan.
Today, there are more than 3,000 SmartWay partners — carriers, shippers, retailers, logistics companies, manufacturers and railroads. The U.S. Postal Service is one of the newest SmartWay partners.
“It’s really been what I would call a great success,” said David Berry, vice president of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Inc., another charter partner. “It has helped steer the states and the nation toward much cleaner air and less use of carbon fuels.”
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