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4 Ways Technology Can Mitigate the Last Mile’s Environmental Impact

Stord Marketing

Published Date
September 30, 2019



Monday, September 30, 2019

Medium and heavy-duty trucks, the trucks carrying the last-mile load, accounted for nearly a quarter of transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2017. But as companies become more conscious of their carbon footprint, new technologies aiming to mitigate the last mile’s environmental impact are entering the market. This week, we’ve collected stories on some of these technologies bringing sustainability to the last mile:

Alternative Pallets

Eco-friendly molded pallets are increasingly being used as an alternative to standard wooden pallets, their market growing 3% year over year. These alternative pallets are light-weight and more stackable than wooden pallets, requiring less truck space and saving on fuel. Their lack of nails and screws means they’re less likely to damage products over multiple uses, and they can be recycled instead of shipped off to a landfill.

Hydrogen-Powered Forklifts

Hydrogen fuel cells are powering New York-built forklifts that don’t require charging or battery packs like battery-powered forklifts. These sustainable forklifts that only emit water vapor also save space in the warehouse, and their brief refueling time improves productivity.

Solar-Powered Trucks

Solar panels are supplementing truck batteries in powering HVAC systems, lift gates and sleeper berth items to reduce the necessity of idling. These solar panels are light-weight and flexible, allowing them to be affixed to a trailer, fully charging at sunrise and “trickle” charging throughout the day. Interest in the panels is spreading since truck batteries alone can no longer meet comfort, tracking, and regulation requirements.

Natural Gas-Powered Trucks

Fleets are turning away from costly diesel and converting to alternative fuels. UPS is converting its fleets to renewable natural gas to reduce its ground fleets’ greenhouse gas emissions by 12% by 2025, and California’s Total Transportation Services Inc. is replacing its entire diesel fleet with near zero-emission natural gas trucks. Natural gas is emerging as a preferred alternative fuel because of its widespread availability.


The emergence of robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) is also improving warehouse sustainability by reducing the need for new infrastructure, because warehouse space is optimized as much as possible. And outside of the U.S., Nike is opening up a distribution center powered solely by clean energy, where 95% of containers inbound to the DC will be routed by water, eliminating an estimated 14,000 truck trips.

STORD partners with a network of 350+ warehouses across North America to provide warehousing and freight solutions for an optimized distribution network. To learn more about how STORD can help drive maximum efficiency for your supply chain, contact us.