As supply chain professionals, we should all be taking an active interest in reducing the carbon emissions from our vehicle fleets. This entails better planning, vehicle utilisation and driver training, as well as considering alternative fuel options such as electric powered vehicles or biofuels. But a big question here is; are biofuels really going to solve the problem?
Governments around the world are actively embarked on introducing policy to encourage the use of biofuels. The European Union has a target for 2010 that 5.75 per cent of transport fuels should come from biological sources and the British government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation requires five per cent of the fuel sold at the pump by 2010 to be biofuel.
Policy makers are committed to biofuel usage, but it is still very questionable whether the net benefit of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is achievable through using such an alternative. According to some sources, maize grown under intensive, mechanised farming methods in the US can make biofuels as polluting as oil. And greater use of Palm Oil in Asia for biofuel production has had the result of eroding the rain forests for further cultivation.
Creating farming incentives for the production of biofuels is having the negative effect of pushing up food prices, a major problem for the developing world, but an increasing one too in the West with its contribution to rising inflation.
With oil prices hovering just short of $100 a barrel, finding an alternative to oil is fast becoming a necessity, but biofuels may not be the most sensible route to go.
Clearly, in the short-term, what is needed is a more considered use of transport – that’s the fastest and safest way to reduce carbon emissions – and to achieve this in the supply chain, strategic issues, such as sourcing policies, collaboration and shared resources, need to be considered along with tactical points relating to vehicle scheduling, utilisation and empty running. Not only will it save carbon, but it will save money too.