A New Model for Estimating Carbon Emissions from LTL Shipments

Freight transportation is a leading source of greenhouse gases across the globe, yet the methods used to calculate these emissions vary tremendously. By C.H. Robinson & MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics

June 25, 2016

Calculating carbon emissions for less than truckload (LTL) is more challenging than for other modes of transportation. Each LTL truck combines a wide mix of freight from many shippers, with varying origin destination pairs.

Without visibility to the details about individual shipments on that truck, accurate carbon emission estimates at the shipment level can be difficult to obtain.

Graduate students at the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL) examined this issue, using actual LTL shipment data from TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson, and a national LTL carrier.

The models discussed in this paper were developed from this research.

This white paper also includes an easy to use model derived from this research to help companies calculate their own LTL carbon emissions.

Measuring the carbon emissions of various types of freight transportation has been a feature of logistics sustainability programs for some time. Yet, there is no widely accepted, accurate template for calculating emissions for individual LTL shipments.

In addition, there is inconsistency in how carbon emissions are calculated around the world. In the United States, most LTL methodologies are based on calculations for truckload service, using the well-known GHG Protocol and EPA SmartWay Program.

However, the macro-level data used in these programs cannot account for the unique characteristics of individual LTL shipments.

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