Convoy issues first-ever sustainability report

Seattle-based digital freight network Convoy issued its first corporate sustainability report today. The report, entitled “Ship Responsibly: Convoy’s 2020 Sustainability Report,” provides an overview of the company’s commitment to shipping responsibly, as well as its various accomplishments focused on key environmental and social issues in 2020 and its new goals and commitments this year and into the future.

In the report, Convoy laid out its focus areas related to sustainability, including: innovation, internal culture, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the lives of America’s 3 million truck drivers; detailed information on Convoy’s employee programs, key metrics on environmental impact, and Convoy’s commitment to helping its customers achieve their sustainability goals.

Convoy’s sustainability-focused goals for 2021 include:  

preventing 3 million pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere in 2021, an 87% increase in the amount of carbon emissions saved by Convoy in 2020; continuing to operate with net zero emissions, implementing decarbonization strategies and neutralizing any remaining emissions with carbon offsets; and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion in Convoy’s network by investing in a dedicated Supplier Diversity Program to help diverse carriers gain access to more business

“A big part of what we do every day is figure out ways to reduce waste in trucking because that’s better for the environment, shippers, and millions of truck drivers. I am very proud to share our first corporate sustainability report,” said Dan Lewis, Co-Founder and CEO of Convoy, in a statement. “Sustainability is core to our company culture and baked into our mission of reaching zero unnecessary waste in transportation. We look forward to building on this for years to come.”

LM Group News Editor Jeff Berman interviewed Jennifer Wong, Head of Sustainability for Convoy, about the report and steps Convoy is taking on the sustainability front.  

LM: What type(s) of tools are needed to tackle the sustainability problems of the future as it relates to things like reducing empty miles and being more "green?”

Wong: Having the right tools won’t solve for sustainability challenges of the future. Logistics leaders need to have the right mindset to solve sustainability problems. 

Oftentimes, senior management is reluctant to make sustainability core to their company’s business strategy due to the long-standing and incorrect assumption that the costs of sustainability far outweigh the benefits. The reality is that academic research and business experience point to quite the opposite. 

Most companies still take a fragmented, reactive, half-hearted approach to sustainability by launching ad hoc initiatives to enhance their “green” credentials, comply with regulations, or deal with emergencies rather than making sustainability a significant factor which does indeed have a direct impact on their bottom line. The key is in taking a different approach to the business of sustainability. 

Logistics leaders need to be open to new partnerships to drive sustainable outcomes. Businesses are turning to their supply chains to see meaningful progress in achieving their sustainability goals. There needs to be a collaborative approach across supply chain partners to tackle sustainability problems. We are already seeing this today with some of our largest customers. They set up working groups for their key supply chain vendors to spend time together discussing and executing on new ideas to help their mutual customer reach their sustainability goals. 

LM: Can you please provide an example of how Convoy operates with net zero emissions and carbon offsets?

Wong: Convoy strives to reduce waste and deliver value, not only for shippers and carriers but in our own operations as well. Our approach to sustainable business is through trust and transparency in everything we do. That’s why we’re sharing our own carbon emissions in our sustainability report—for the purpose of understanding where we are today and acknowledging that we have some work to do of our own. 

This year we partnered with Emitwise to collect, analyze, and report on our scope 123 emissions. We plan to report our emissions every year, always refining the data and process to have the most accurate view of our impact. Once we understood our emissions footprint, we purchased carbon offsets through carbonfund.org to fully neutralize our scope 123 emissions from 2020. We will continue to offset what we are not able to decarbonize in our operations. 

Aligned with our Climate Pledge commitment, we are now focused on identifying and implementing new strategies to decarbonize our operations.

One example of an area we are focused on reducing emissions is in our purchased goods. Convoy provides every new employee with hardware and office supplies (i.e., a laptop, desk, chair, and monitor). Manufacturing these products comes with a cost of carbon emissions. In 2020, our purchased goods and services equated to roughly 1,279,000 pounds of CO2. We will start to evaluate the sustainability of these products, both in the production and supply chain phase but also the end-of-life phase of each product. Remanufactured products save up to 98% of CO2 emission compared to equivalent new products. We are reducing our use of unsustainable products and purchasing refurbished products when possible.

LM: How exactly does a typical green appointment window process work? 

Wong: Green appointment windows, available through the Convoy shipper platform, offers shippers the ability to book their freight in a flexible appointment window to get access to the best carriers at the best price while simultaneously reducing their carbon emissions. Our research uncovered that longer appointment windows maximizes carrier schedules and reduces empty miles, resulting in a carbon reduction of 36% for the shipment.

Poor appointment setting results in truck drivers wasting time and driving empty. Empty miles occur because strict pick-up and delivery appointments often don’t fit with a driver’s schedule. The load may have a pick-up hours after drivers have completed a delivery and loads are often scheduled with too much transit time in between, leading to long waits or loads that are on the right route, but don’t work for a driver’s schedule due to the timing. When there is more flexibility in the drop-off and pickup times, there are more opportunities to find closer loads before and after any particular shipment.

Green Appointment Windows increase the likelihood of round-trip batching, leading to empty miles saved, which in turn leads to significant savings in carbon emissions.

LM: What makes a digital freight network the most sustainable way to ship? 

Wong: Traditional supply chains often rely on phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, and manual processes to manage operations, find trucks, negotiate rates, and set schedules. These manual, repetitive processes take valuable time that could be spent on proactive planning and addressing more complex logistics problems. They’re also prone to error and can’t respond quickly when there’s a demand surge, a weather event, traffic conditions, or a breakdown. And because manual processes don’t allow for large-scale data collection, it’s not easy for supply chain teams to analyze their operations, identify inefficiencies, and then track their progress against them. Manual processes and inefficiencies result in waste in the form of carbon emissions. 

Convoy’s digital freight network was created with efficiency at its core. It factors in both current and future truck availability to move all shipments to their destinations simultaneously, all in an effort to reduce empty miles. The foundation of our network is an open and fully connected marketplace of shippers and carriers driven by automation and supported by a broad, ever-growing set of shipper and carrier capabilities. That fully connected marketplace increases the momentum of our flywheel. As more carriers join the network, capacity increases and shippers see lower prices per mile and higher quality. In addition, as the network grows, insights emerge from the data that help shippers and carriers improve their businesses.