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How To Effectively Lower Your Fleet’s Carbon Emissions

Transport has the highest reliance on fossil fuels, with increasing pollution rates, of any other sector. 

The figure sits at 37% of the total CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. 

This is why fleet sustainability matters so much. Fleet owners need to play their part to bring global emissions and CO2 levels down in their fleets.  

Sounds like loads of responsibility but don’t worry, you’re not alone - a lot can be done to make your fleet more environmentally friendly. 

The grass is greener on the other side with a fleet management platform.

In this article, you will:

  • Learn the definition of a carbon footprint
  • Understand the importance of fleet sustainability
  • Find out how to create a strategic plan to spread carbon neutrality in your fleet
  • Discover how to calculate your fleet’s carbon footprint
  • Unpack 5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint with a fleet management platform
  • Know all the latest clean-fleet future trends
  • Learn how Cartrack can help you make your fleet more environmentally friendly

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are caused by our daily activities, and we’re all guilty. 

It could be a result of the food we eat, the clothes we wear, our mode of transportation, or our energy consumption levels. 

Globally, the average annual carbon footprint per person is close to four tons. However, if we want to avoid a two-degree rise in global temperatures, this number needs to drop to under two tons by 2050. 

The transportation sector is an entirely other beast, ranking as one of the most polluting industries for emissions. The average vehicle emits approximately six to nine tons of CO2 per year. 

To put it into perspective, imagine a cube almost as tall, wide, and long as a telephone pole. That is how much space one ton of CO2 holds. 

If you have a fleet, it is in your best interest to try and reduce your carbon emissions and be more sustainable. Let’s find out how you can do this.

Fleet sustainability defined 

Fleet sustainability is a continual process of evaluating the environmental and social impact a  fleet has — through a process of identifying improvements, creating change, and measuring success. 

In a nutshell, you should be ticking some of these boxes to minimise your fleet’s carbon footprint, and improve your emission compliance and regulations:

  • Fuel-efficient driving
  • Reduction of idling
  • Carbon emissions
  • Adoption of low-or zero-emission vehicles
  • Right-sizing to meet fleet needs
  • Reducing total trips
  • Keeping your fleet healthy
  • Considering alternative modes of transportation

Spreading carbon neutrality in your fleet

Carbon neutrality refers to the state of net zero carbon dioxide emissions, or balancing emissions of CO2 from the environment.

This includes all of the carbon you produce throughout your operation — your vehicle fleet, the maintenance areas, distribution centres, your offices, etc.

You can go from carbon-heavy to carbon-neutral with these quick steps.

  1. Find out where you are today

    Calculate how many vehicles you currently have and the amount of waste you generate.
  2. Create a plan

    Establish emission reduction goals and milestones, and how you are going to get there. Communicate this to all your stakeholders.
  3. Start with the fleet operation

    Analyse fuel efficiency measures, maintenance, and effective route planning for your vehicles.
  4. Reduce waste footprint

    Have a look at the waste you produce in your business overall. This includes implementing recycling initiatives and what you do with used tyres, pallets, construction and renovation waste, hazardous waste, electronic waste, and all waste fluids.
  5. Carbon credits

    You could purchase credits that aid financial support for carbon reduction projects.
  6. Track and report

    Constantly measure, track, and report on your carbon reduction levels each year and compare them to your go-green goals. Also, track your employee’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, and report on your annual achievements to stakeholders.

Are you familiar with the formula to quickly calculate your carbon footprint?

Well, let’s quickly unpack that…

How do you calculate your fleet carbon footprint?

The size of your carbon footprint solely depends on how much fuel gets burnt in your fleet, resulting in CO2 emissions.

There are two ways to efficiently calculate this number and your impact.

  1. The mathematical estimation

    Find out how many litres of fuel your business buys every month. Alternatively, you can divide the number of kilometres your fleet completes in a month by your average KPL (Kilometre per litre), to calculate the number of litres of fuel your fleet burned in that month.

    You can convert the number of litres of fuel into kilograms of CO2 emissions, created that month. One litre of diesel is 2.68kg, while petrol is 2.32kg. You can multiply the litres your fleet burned by 2.68 or 2.32 to get your kilograms of CO2.
  2. The accurate measurement

    Using telematics along with fleet management systems can give you a more precise and accurate method of measuring your fleet’s Carbon footprint. It allows you to monitor and track all your vehicles in real time, gathering information from their location and speed to their idling and fuel usage. Other than estimating, you can see the real KPL of each vehicle at any point in time with live fuel consumption rates and reports that highlight options to improve your fleet’s health and fuel efficiency, and easily get your fleet’s monthly emissions.

That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to manage your fleet effectively and with the help of a fleet platform.

Let’s get straight to it.

5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint with fleet management

A Return on Investment (ROI) is part of any business rule book. If you invest in a fleet management platform, you need to know if you are getting something out of it. Whether it’s getting more customers, saving on fuel and maintenance, doing less admin, or just fewer fleet headaches overall.

Cartrack can give you more bang for your buck and ease down your carbon footprint while it’s at it with these smart tools and insights:

  • Improved fuel usage and consumption

    A fuel-efficient fleet will save you tons and give you big returns on managing your fleet. But also, less fuel used, means less emissions released into the environment. Cartrack helps you easily keep tabs on this. Say you experience fuel theft, fuel card fraud, and high fuel consumption — you can intervene before costly fuel is wasted, as you’ll get an alert the minute this is detected. As a result, less excess pollution will come from your fleet, making it more sustainable in the long run. For example, you can identify if your drivers are taking longer routes than usual, or uncover other possible reasons such as inefficient vehicle performance, faulty tyres, or poor driving. This gives you the tools to do what’s necessary to ensure you get accurate litres used per kilometre and keep your fuel, and emission levels as low as possible.
  • Driver insights and eco-driving

    The way your vehicles are driven contributes to your carbon footprint. For every 10km/h your drivers go over 100, fuel efficiency drops by 10%. Driving 120 km/h on the highway instead of 100 is like paying 20% extra for fuel, and results in much higher emissions. And the same goes for aggressive driving — more fuel will be released. Another important factor is excessive idling which creates the same kind of pollution as when the car is moving. An idling diesel truck burns approximately four litres of fuel an hour, and idling for ten seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine.

    Nip this all right in the bud with a good fleet management platform. For example, Cartrack’s in-cabin AI cameras can alert drivers in real time when they are driving harshly, braking suddenly, or taking corners quickly. This allows them to rectify their behaviour, minimising excess emissions and fuel wasted from your fleet. You can also pull up driver scorecards with reports on insights such as idling durations, and use these to educate your drivers on where they need to improve.
  • Preventative fleet maintenance

    Routine maintenance increases the lifespan of your vehicles which in turn, increases the resale value. An inefficient vehicle or one with faulty parts will use more fuel and create more emissions. There are multiple areas in a vehicle that could be malfunctioning, whether it's a faulty spark plug, an oxygen sensor in a petrol engine, a dirty fuel injector in a diesel engine, causing more fuel consumption, or clogged air elements resulting in more fuel usage.

    With Cartrack, you can pull out all these stops to get more value out of your vehicles, instantly respond to maintenance needs and improve your carbon footprint:
  1. Get real-time vehicle diagnostics to replace parts before they break
  2. Establish preventative maintenance plans and regular service intervals
  3. Receive real-time alerts of any engine faults, worn brake pads, oil and water fluctuations, and other diagnostics, helping you pre-empt which vehicles need servicing
  • Careful route planning

    Businesses using Cartrack Delivery’s route optimisation feature, report driving less mileage and saving more on fuel. The platform calculates the best routes for your drivers to take, so they can avoid traffic or excess miles. Fleet managers can also dispatch vehicles along the most efficient routes at the most efficient times of the day. By using Delivery, one customer reported that one of their drivers drove 27km less in one day. An eight-ton truck consumes 4km/l of diesel, and in this case, they consumed 7l less diesel in one day. If you apply this to the rest of the fleet, it works out to a 13% annual fuel saving. If the fuel spend is R2.5 million a year, that’s close to a R300 000 saving on fuel. Of course, this will drop the number of emissions released too.

    Did you know that for every litre of diesel, 2.68 kgs of CO2 is released? So one vehicle can emit 18.76 kgs less CO2 in just one day, as a result of Cartrack’s route optimisation.
  • Paperless processes

    Using less paper is always good for the environment, and with Cartrack, you can go entirely paperless. Cartrack’s platform is completely digitised and offers automation and alerts for a variety of tasks in real-time, and all types of reports when you want them — all sent straight to your inbox. Easily download the reports, where all your fleet insights will be stored online and in the cloud - no need to print them out. Not to forget, it’ll cut your admin time in half too.

Great, right? But fleet management aside, there is even more that you can do to make a sustainable difference:

Other steps to lower your fleet’s CO2 emissions

  1. Switch to fuel-efficient vehicles

    When purchasing trucks for your fleet, you should look out for fuel-savvy vehicles with low greenhouse gas emissions. These could include electric, plug-in hybrid electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and cleaner-burning gasoline vehicle types. You can conduct an assessment of the vehicle types in your fleet with the help of a fleet platform to identify which ones are using fuel efficiently. Maybe you’ll go through the process of selling and buying until you find the perfect “green” vehicle for you.
  2. Go electric

    In the long run, it's cheaper to charge your electric car than spend money on petrol. Paying R1.84 per KW is the equivalent of driving on gasoline that costs less than R18.40 per gallon. On average, drivers save about R12 880 in fuel costs per year while driving electric cars. And of course, they are environmentally friendly as they do not emit pollutants. Studies find that emissions from EVs have emissions up to 43% lower than diesel vehicles. There are a variety of plug-in vehicles that you can choose from.
  3. Check your tyre pressure

    The air pressure in your tyres supports the whole weight of your car. This impacts vehicle performance, impacting fuel costs, and tyre wear and tear. Under-inflated tyres increase your vehicle’s drag, which increases fuel consumption. But by how much exactly? Every 1% decrease in tyre pressure correlates to a 0.3% reduction in fuel economy. When your tyres are underinflated by 10%, this will increase your fuel consumption by 2%. This means that you will be paying an extra 45 cents per litre on fuel.
  4. Rightsize LCVs and accurate loading

    Choose the size of vehicles in line with your load requirements, and avoid unnecessarily large vehicles, especially if a smaller van can carry the load sufficiently, and as long as they are operationally fit for purpose. Rightsizing light commercial vehicles will help you avoid excess volume and payload can add to CO2 savings. Overloading your vehicle can badly affect your car’s suspension, tyres, transmission, and at last, the engine, and fuel output.
  5. Choose the right fuel for the job

    Do you know what's the best fuel for your vehicles? Different fuel types offer a range of options for reducing CO2 emissions. You can compare these options in line with how they meet your business needs and help with fleet sustainability.

    Here’s a quick rundown:
  • Petrol: Widely available but tends to emit less NOx but more CO2 than diesel
  • Diesel: Provides better fuel economy in trucks and cars. New technologies have made diesel more environmentally friendly
  • Biodiesel blends: These provide comparable fuel efficiency to pure diesel and it’s a renewable fuel that emits less CO2
  • Natural gas: This is better for the environment than diesel or gasoline, but natural gas-powered vehicles are considerably more expensive to purchase.

Last but not least, a lot is happening out there with the latest vehicle trends, and it’s looking positive.

Check this out:

Know the latest clean-fleet future trends

The 2022 State of Sustainable Fleets Annual Report, gives key insights into today’s clean vehicle technologies. 

The good news is that the past year has set a benchmark for fleets trying to improve their carbon footprint, and for the rest of the world.

6 key findings include:

  1. Zero-emission regulations are transforming the U.S commercial transportation industry
  2. There is enormous demand for battery electric vehicles (BEV) from fleets
  3. Orders for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have quadrupled, led by the transit sector where 20% of transit companies are moving to fuel cell vehicles in California. There has been an increase in hydrogen stations, also planned for other states
  4. 24% increase in renewable natural gas production from 2020 to 2021 in California, with a — 33% of carbon intensity
  5. Massive growth in renewable diesel too, where several refineries no longer process crude oil, but rather renewable fuel production.
  6. 700% increase in the amount of funding and incentives, with 20 billion dollars a year allocation, to accelerate the market

Go green with telematics

Fleets are under increasing pressure to be more environmentally friendly, but there is much that can be done, and it all starts with an efficiently managed fleet. Are you ready to reduce your carbon footprint? With Cartrack’s advanced fleet management platform, you can make your fleet cleaner and greener. Find out more. 

Go green! Transport relies heavily on fossil fuels, causing alarming pollution levels. Join others in adopting a fleet management platform for a greener future.