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Manufacturers offset transportation carbon footprints with GreenShipping

Brenda Cole, Assistant Site Editor

Eager to appeal to eco-friendly consumers and meet federal carbon regulations, manufacturers are turning to green technology to make their business models more

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environmentally responsible. GreenShipping, an online shipment tracking tool, is helping businesses not only calculate their transportation carbon footprints but invest in clean energy projects as well.

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On the GreenShipping website, users can enter the tracking numbers of UPS, FedEx and USPS shipments. The GreenShipping dashboard then shows the package's current location, past locations, arrival due date and method of transport via ground or air. The carbon emission rate of the type of transportation used (truck, plane, train, etc.) is also taken into account. The GreenShipping calculator then combines the transportation information with the weight of the package to determine the total miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions produced by the shipment.

Once they know the size of their transportation carbon footprint, GreenShipping users can purchase carbon offsets -- financial instruments that stand for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions -- from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), a nonprofit organization that promotes and develops renewable energy projects. GreenShipping prices its BEF carbon offsets, which are aimed at U.S. wind energy projects, at $26.67 per ton of carbon reduced.

GreenShipping's carbon offsets alleviate manufacturers' environmental concerns

In May 2009, glass mosaic tile manufacturer Hakatai was searching for ways to reduce its environmental impact. After coming across a newspaper story on GreenShipping, Hakatai president Marshall Malden was intrigued by the technology's carbon offset purchasing model.

"I thought their concept of selling us carbon offsets to make our shipments carbon-neutral was very interesting," Malden said. "It addressed our concern about our shipments generating CO2."

Implementing GreenShipping was an easy process that involved giving the tool access to Hakatai's FedEx and UPS shipping databases, he said. Hakatai made its first GreenShipping order in June 2009; today, the company uses GreenShipping to track all of its daily carton shipments.

Hakatai has received positive feedback from customers since implementing GreenShipping, but for Malden, the greatest benefit is the "satisfaction of knowing it's the right thing to do" for the environment.

Jeff Knapp, Cellar Club manager of Sokol Blosser Winery, said his company is focused on greening its transportation practices because "moving wine and people has been identified as the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in our industry."

Sokol Blosser decided to test GreenShipping on its Cellar Club orders first, according to Knapp. "Our Club shipments all ship out at once and make their way all over the country," he said. "We have a thousand packages all departing on a single day." After putting GreenShipping in contact with its fulfillment warehouse, the company discovered that the carbon impact of the average Cellar Club shipment cost between $.07 and $.09 to offset. Satisfied with the carbon offsetting of its Cellar Club, Sokol Blosser recently began using GreenShipping for all of its direct shipments.

Knapp sees the GreenShipping tool playing a role in the achievement of Sokol Blosser's larger environmental goals. "GreenShipping is one more piece in the puzzle of our attempt to reach true sustainability," he said. The company is off to a good start -- since starting with GreenShipping, Sokol Blosser has offset 13,628 pounds of carbon from more than 2,600 shipments.

Although he likes the GreenShipping carbon offset model, Knapp wishes the tool would expand its offset credits to a greater variety of nonprofit projects. "Bonneville is one of the best out there," he said. "But I think that nationally, people may be more interested in seeing a direct, local connection to their offsets."

Sustainable companies use GreenShipping to reduce manufacturing's environmental impact

For manufacturers of eco-friendly products, green transportation management is an essential part of the business model. Jason Graham-Nye is co-founder and CEO of gDiapers, a manufacturer of biodegradable and reusable baby diapers. According to Graham-Nye, one of the tenets of gDiapers is to make every element of the business sustainable, including transportation.

"To be able to offset our carbon emissions with every delivery to our customers is an important goal for us," he said. "It's also very empowering to our customers."

Prior to implementation, gDiapers sent its average shipment charges and distances to GreenShipping for an estimate of what the carbon offsets would cost. After some integration to get the dashboard tracking map to customers, gDiapers began using GreenShipping on a daily basis. The company also gets monthly carbon offset reports from GreenShipping to measure its progress.

"The [GreenShipping] measurability is terrific," Graham-Nye said, and it is helping gDiapers "close the loop in terms of waste."

Eco-friendly manufacturer DreamSacks, which makes natural fiber bedding and apparel, was introduced to GreenShipping through an existing relationship with BEF. The company previously donated $1 of every online order to BEF. At the end of 2009, BEF asked DreamSacks to begin making its carbon offset donations through GreenShipping.

"It took a little bit of time to get all of our various shipping methods -- UPS, USPS, FedEx -- automated to send the tracking information to GreenShipping," said Larry Morgan, DreamSacks founder and owner. "It was pretty painless because of the awesome support GreenShipping gave us to help with the setup."

DreamSacks also purchases carbon offsets for its overseas imports. Once a month, Morgan sends GreenShipping a report of the company's shipment tracking numbers and weights. GreenShipping performs the calculations and sends back an invoice for the amount of the offsets to be purchased.

Morgan is pleased with the "easy" usability of the GreenShipping dashboard and its role in reducing DreamSacks' environmental impact.

He said: "It helps us contribute to the development of both solar and wind energy alternatives [for] our nation's energy needs."


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