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Driving Towards a Sustainable Future

Jun 29, 2023 | Innovation + Technology

The transportation industry accounts for about 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As an industry leader, Werner is leading the charge in reducing industry-wide carbon emissions by implementing and evaluating sustainable processes.

We’re building a scalable sustainability framework beyond in-the-moment efforts, focusing on innovating our operations, fleet and technology. Moving the needle on such a grand scale requires long-term plans and investments. To stay on track with our progress, we’ve committed to a 55 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2035.

Driving Towards a Sustainable Future infographic

Starting with Operations

One of the easiest areas to begin making an impact is through our people and our day-to-day operations. Though these improvements might not feel as monumental as experiments with new technology and equipment, they’re still vital to a successful sustainability strategy. The first step forward for any industry is changing our everyday habits to be more climate conscious.

For Werner, this begins with changes we’re making at our Omaha headquarters, across our regional offices, and across our facilities and terminals, including:

  • Introducing technology solutions that reduce paper use/waste by moving intensive processes to digital platforms (i.e., SharePoint for file sharing)
  • Revamping our recycling program, with plans to expand to other network locations
  • Introducing compostable cafeteria containers
  • Implementing timers for lighting during off hours to reduce electrical usage
  • Removing all truck refueling tanks from terminals, eliminating spillage and contamination risks
  • Recycling or repurposing all batteries, liquids and tires
  • Converting to 100 percent LED lighting in all facilities

Investing in Sustainable Innovation

We’re committed to investing in and testing alternative technology that allows us to innovate on a larger scale. Our team understands the value of testing available and emerging technologies to determine best practices in reducing emissions, driving efficiencies, and still meeting customers’ needs.

Though these options may change with more time and further innovation, we see the value of exploring our choices today to identify potential long-term solutions. Given this mindset, we’re currently testing battery electric vehicles, hydrogen engines, hybrid diesel/battery-assist engines, compressed natural gas trucks and solar panels.

Enhancing Our Fleet

In addition to exploring innovative solutions, Werner also maintains one of the industry’s newest fleets. On average, our trucks are 2.3 years old, less than the industry average of 4.4 years. These late-model tractors have the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic technology currently available.

We’re also looking for ways to enhance how our fleet operates and reduces emissions with the implementation of on-board tech. For instance, we know engine idling significantly contributes to carbon emissions:

Problem: The U.S. EPA estimates that one idling truck engine contributes about 21 tons of carbon dioxide annually. The problem is that some idling is often required for drivers to be comfortable during their rest breaks.

Solution: All Werner sleeper trucks are equipped with idle management systems. These automatically start and stop the engine, helping to maintain cab temperatures and battery charge levels.

For our fleets requiring more idling time than these systems can provide, we’ve added auxiliary power units (APUs), which offer the same benefits to battery life and driver comfort as idling, but use 75 percent less fuel than an idling engine. These help to reduce emissions by about 13 percent per truck.

Improving Our Measurement and Reporting

We’re only as successful as the results we benchmark and report against. That’s why last year, we announced our engagement with Salesforce’s Net Zero Cloud and Workiva’s reporting platform to help manage and measure our ESG data. This combined system can accelerate ESG-related reporting and standardize how we capture and store data. This technology allows us to better understand our recycling and waste efforts, where we’re achieving success and where we need improvement.

By 2024, we plan to build a waste and energy scorecard measuring our progress around waste reduction and electricity use, and these platforms will aid these efforts.

The Road Ahead

With endless opportunities for improvement and innovation, we’re invigorated by the investments and changes we’ve already implemented. As we continue to track our progress and introduce new goals, we hope to continue setting an example for how the industry can drive towards a more sustainable future for all.

To learn more about our current goals and initiatives, you can find our recent CSR Update report here.

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