This assessment investigates green freight transportation challenges and their impact on the freight transportation industry in Australia. Its aim is to show that these freight transportation challenges can be overcome and ultimately eliminated by incorporating green, i.e. sustainable technologies, and improved practices into a more effective supply chain technology. Utilizing published findings, this assessment proposes rational, workable recommendations, based on known fiscal and environmental data, to Australian green freight transportation challenges. This assessment relies on methods as diverse as surveys, mathematical research, public health statistics, chemical assays, industry studies, and government case studies. Data extrapolated from scientific research point to green freight transportation's impact on Australia's freight transport and logistical industry, such as increased cost-effectiveness and a decreased carbon footprint, i.e. less environmental pollution. Surveys in Australia have clearly shown that green, sustainable solutions to its overall freight transportation industry have also gained traction with respect to positive publicity. Green freight transportation encompasses a number of existent and emerging technologies as well as transport practices, including skysails, solar power, nuclear power, biofuels, synthetic fuels, hybrid vehicles, improved aerodynamic design, larger, more sustainable freight transport vehicles such as trucks, improved driving techniques, and improved supply chain technology. The findings of this assessment and the conclusions drawn herein point to a less expensive, greener future, for Australia's freight transportation industry. Its green freight transportation challenges, while immensely broad, complex, and multi-variate, can be solved by the gradual implementation of a variety of solutions from the overlapping spheres of business, government, science, and technology.
Green freight transportation has a short history in Australia yet the freight transportation industry, including its infrastructure, is already aging. Despite the Country's immense investment in railways, roads, and bridges, funding is becoming increasingly difficult to procure. Consequently, Australia is left with a lagging infrastructure. Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, page 26. A quality infrastructure is necessary to suit the needs of green freight transportation and poses a serious challenge to its growth.
Moreover, infrastructural improvements, or overhauls, require an increased tax burden for citizens or increased costs to private industry. However, statistics have borne out the fact that a significant portion of Australians are willing to pay for green freight transportation. TNS, Our Green World, An International Survey covering 17 Countries into how green we really are, Research Report, December 2008.
When one evaluates adverse environmental effects, the measurement of air quality in terms of greenhouse (and non-greenhouse) gas emissions is a major determinant of measurable pollution. While showing some improvement, a considerable amount of Australians die yearly from air pollution, a number near 3,000. Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L & Lopez, A (2007), The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003. Cat. no. PHE 82. Canberra: AIHW.
There is not only a considerable desire for green freight transportation technology in Australia but there is a discernible need as well. Thus, reducing industry's environmental footprint--and the freight industry is a large one--is becoming a national priority. While green freight transportation faces a number of challenges, these are hurdles that, given time and planning, can be overcome.
Indeed, the green freight transportation challenge faces a number of obstacles and has a huge impact on the overall logistics industry. Solutions to air, water, and soil pollution, due to the usage of non-renewable fuel sources such as oil, are not readily apparent.
It is not entirely economical to rapidly convert freight transportation, transportation that has served the logistics industry well for many years, to overnight sustainability without tremendous cost, and invariably, short-term financial loss to both the private and public sectors.
However, a strategy of gradual green freight transportation solutions has the potential to immediately impact Australia's overall logistics industry. The logistics industry is faced with a host of challenges but green freight transportation has the ability to ameliorate economic challenges as well as improve the environmental problems that the logistics industry has played a role in causing. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (2010), State of the Air in Australia 1999-2008, Commonwealth of Australia, pg 61.
Continued inefficiencies of the logistics industry that contribute to its long-term costs, inefficiencies such as the failure to incorporate even the most basic (and cheapest) strategies such as more intelligent supply chains and driver courses, will continue to erode the logistics industry in Australia. Furthermore, monies that are frittered away by these neglectful practices are diverted from one of the most important investments that can be made in order to improve the efficiency of the logistics industry--its infrastructure.
It has been shown that the employment of more advanced software technology in supply chain management has an immediate impact on green freight transportation challenges, namely, its cost of implementation. http://www.solveitsoftware.com/announcements/ge-australia-s-aurizon-sign-agreement#sthash.gTAq6S7e.dpuf.
Similarly, without an immediate investment in infrastructural improvements, even driver training can have an immediate and dramatic impact on the overall logistics industry. For example, "The Victorian Freight Logistics Council described 'Eco-Driving' as 'a set of driving principles that have been empirically proven to reduce fuel consumption'." Victorian Freight & Logistics Council, A Sustainable and Responsible Freight Logistics Industry: The Good Practice Sourcebook, 2009. Thus, eco-driving is both a cost-effective measure at improving non-renewable pollution along the road and is a measure that can be economically employed by e-learning. EcoStation, Environmental Driving, Victorian Transport Association, available from
Reduced fuel consumption is an investment in the logistics industry that is practical in at least two ways. It reduces fuels cost to the industry as a whole and the practices are environmentally-sustainable over the long haul. An added benefit is that the training decreases the likelihood of accidents while on the road.
Another less expensive means of is the use intermodal transport along the infrastructure. By designating key points for using truck, rail, or air transport along routes, cost savings can be reaped immediately. Thus far, the research has shown that it is rather evident that the challenges faced by green freight transportation are integrated with the challenges faced by the overall logistics industry as well as the movement toward environmental sustainability.
However, it can be difficult, if not nearly impossible to tease out those intertwined interactions. For example, many driving costs are related to a decaying infrastructure which begs the question: is it less costly to invest in the infrastructure or less costly to invest in better supply chain management and improved driving practices? Certainly, from a safety perspective investing in both is a strategy worth pursuing.
As the infrastructure, the logistics industry, and green freight transportation challenges are so inextricably tied together, a two-tier recommendation is proposed that will, over time, solve the challenges that green freight transportation faces in Australia.
The first tier stands upon a foundation of both public and private sector investment in a decaying infrastructure, important transport links such as roads, urban streets and highways, bridges, ports, airports, and shipping channels.
As previously mentioned, it has been shown that public sector support is high in improving infrastructure as well as sustainability from an increased cost burden perspective. Private sector support, however, is lagging at this time. However, improvements in infrastructure are directly correlated with improved conventional transport. Immediate investment from the private sector may be difficult to induce, but with long-term government incentives such as municipal bonds, the logistics industry will embrace and shoulder the burden of short-term costs such as highway tolls, increased taxation, and other infrastructure usage fees.
It is important to employ a conservative approach, no matter how dire the environmental situation appears. Using independent research rather than government-sponsored research may serve its purpose in a more persuasive manner. After all, private sector decision-making is more influenced by competing for lower costs and increased private margins rather than by the dependency on imposed externalities such as government regulations, laws, and other inducements.
The second tier will involve national and state governments more directly. Inducements to convert to green freight transportation can be made in the form of interest-free loans to those companies in the logistics industry who show a commitment to conversion to green technologies. For the trucking industry, for example, investing in more efficient transport practices such as using larger trucks to move goods, shows a commitment on their behalf to sustainable technologies and practices. When savings begin to be realized, the industry can further invest in electric vehicles and eventually divest itself of its fleets of diesel vehicles.
The Australian government can also provide financing in the form of tax relief on the private sector. For example, it is highly recommended that the government provides monies to companies within the logistics framework on a matching basis, such as lowered taxes on the private sector companies that have shown increased and have set aside funds for investments in green freight transportation technology.
In conclusion, Australia's green freight transportation's future faces a number of challenges. However, by getting both the private and public sectors aboard in different respects, these challenges can be ultimately overcome and a future of environmental sustainability can be realized over time.