Retailers to Develop Green Rating System for Port Truck Fleets

Retailers to Develop Green Rating System for Port Truck Fleets

Big rig -- CC licensed by Flickr user ThreadedThoughts

Best Buy, Target and JCPenney are among a group of retailers, trucking companies and ocean carriers developing a green certification and rating system for port delivery trucks.

They are members of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT), a California-based nonprofit partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to model the new rating system after the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Program.

The partners are now actively working on the program in preparation for a pilot program that will first test the framework at Southern California ports, with plans to expand the program nationally, according to CRT Executive Director James Jack.

“We’d like to roll it out and get trucks certified by the end of the year,” Jack told Thursday, adding that the group hopes to implement the framework nationally by next spring. {related_content}
The SmartWay program was created to rate road trucks based on their environmental impacts, allowing providers who have taken steps to make their trucks more efficient to distinguish themselves. Some companies, such as Target, have publicly committed to using only SmartWay-certified shipping providers, Jack said.

But the SmartWay program focuses on trucks that crisscross the country delivering the nation’s goods, not on the trucks that service seaports. These trucks, Jack said, are used differently, mostly for short hauls, which have different environmental impacts.

Whereas a long-distance truck would be rated more heavily on fuel efficiency, a port drayage truck graded under the new certification program would be scored on emissions levels of particulate matter and nitrous oxides, which create smog and compromise air quality of neighboring coastal cities.

“Port pollution has become such a big hot-button issue, we thought this was a natural next step to take the program,” Jack said.

Once completed, the rating and certification will fall under the auspices of the EPA, Jack said.

The nation’s ports have for years been under pressure to clean up their operations, which generate tons of annual emissions of harmful pollutants and greenhouse gases from the constant hum of maritime traffic. Just in the past few months, millions of dollars in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been dedicated to reducing particulate diesel emissions throughout the country, some of it earmarked for U.S. ports.

But before that, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach implemented various initiatives, such as a clean truck program that mandates and helps subsidize the replacement of older diesel rigs and the use of cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas. Nearly 5,000 clean trucks have been deployed at the Southern California ports in the last couple of years. Ships also face new pollution regulations.

A 2008 study found that ports for container ships are among the largest sources of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user ThreadedThoughts.