Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is Green Freight Europe?

    Green Freight Europe aims to be recognized as
    the leading independent voluntary program for improving environmental
    performance of road freight transport in Europe

    The program drives reductions of carbon emissions by:

    1. Establishing a platform for monitoring and reporting of carbon emissions, to assist in the procurement of transportation services and based on existing standards
    2. Promoting collaboration between carriers and shippers in driving improvement actions and monitoring progress
    3. Establishing a certification system to reward shippers and carriers who fully participate in the program

    It is also the platform for companies to share best practices, promote innovations and communicate sustainability improvements on European road freight.

    Furthermore Green Freight Europe fosters cooperation with other related initiatives, programs and working groups globally.

  • 2. Why is Green Freight Europe only focusing on Europe?

    Europe presents a unique economic area bound by common rules and regulations affecting road freight transport. The environment, the weights and dimensions, the regulations, the market and the technology are different in Europe from other parts of the world. Pressure on industry and the customers in Europe to find fuel and operational efficiency is intense: politically, economically, and driven by consumer demand.

    Therefore, while able to feed off and share the experiences and best practices from similar initiatives around the world, European business needs its own version to deal with the particular issues experienced in this part of the world.

  • 3. What is the link with the US SmartWay Partnership run by the EPA? Why don't we copy the tools from the US?

    The program is inspired by the already successful SmartWay Partnership which was developed in the US by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and has been running since 2003 and by 2010 accounts for 30% of US road freight volume. During 2010, a group of companies in Europe piloted the concept, identified adaptations needed for the European market and recommended to further develop the program, which now evolved into Green Freight Europe.

    The US market and trucks are different in many ways from that found in Europe. A perfect fit could not be found. Additionally the US scheme is funded from public finance and the initiative is trade-marked by the EPA. Therefore, while taking the lead from the US model it has been necessary to adapt it to a European environment, and distinguishing it
    from the US approach.

  • 4. Will Green Freight Europe remain the name of the initiative?

    Yes. Since the official public launch of the initiative (Brussels, Belgium, 27th
    March 2012), the initiative has been referred to as Green Freight EuropeTM. The name is in-keeping with other initiatives of a similar nature in other regions of the world (e.g. Green Freight China) and further protects the trademarked name of the SmartWay initiative in the US.

    (Prior to 27th March 2012 the initiative was referred to as SmartWay Europe)

  • 5. When was Green Freight Europe (GFE) established?

    In 2009 a number of European-based companies came together, coordinated by consulting firms partnering in the Green Logistics Consultants Group, co-funded by the French Environment and Energy
    Agency ADEME. This broad expert and stakeholder consultation process confirmed the need and significant interest in a common European approach to measuring, monitoring and reducing emissions from road freight operations.

    The group formed under the working title of the SmartWay Europe Working Group within the framework of the Climate TransAct initiative. 

    In early 2010, the group became self-managing and embarked independently on a programme of work to establish a programme comparable to the US SmartWay Partnership.  The group by this stage involved large companies from different industries: Deutsche Post DHL, Geodis, HEINEKEN, IKEA, Kraft Foods, TNT and UPS. The recommendation of the pilot group was to continue with the development of SmartWay Europe, since this was considered as the most effective voluntary approach to engage companies in reducing their fuel consumption and carbon emissions. This evolved into today's Green Freight Europe programme and membership organisation. The organisation was 'incorporated' in March 2012.

  • 6. Who runs GFE?

    The organisation is managed by the European Shippers' Council and Dutch Shippers' Council (EVO), under contract, on behalf of the GFE members.

  • 7. Who are the members?

    The members currently include leading manufacturers, logistics service providers (LSPs) and road freight operators. Membership is open to any company which either contracts road haulage services, or provides road haulage services in Europe. Membership is also open to organisations who are able to bring their membership and clients to the programme and into membership.

  • 8. Is this programme compliant with EU competition/anti-trust rules?

    Yes. It is imperative that this be the case. All meetings strictly adhere to competition rules and guidelines are provided. Materials produced are also regularly checked for compliance with competition rules.

  • 9. What emissions are measured and benchmarked, and is it just restricted to road freight in Europe?

    At this stage it is only tailpipe or "tank to wheel" CO2e from road haulage that is the focus of our attentions. But in time, other emissions such as NOx and particulate matter (PM) may be addressed as well as other modes of freight transport.

    This is because measuring accurately the CO2  emissions (and CO2equivalent emissions) from road freight operations in Europe is seen as the most important source of GHGs to tackle as it has the biggest emphasis in Europe's climate change agenda.

    Furthermore it represents one of the biggest technical challenges. Scope 3 emissions (including emissions from contracted services) are difficult to report and monitor, because of a lack of transparency. There are several other factors making the calculation and reporting of carbon emissions in transportation a time‐consuming and unreliable process. First of all, there a several tools, reporting formats and data requirements in existance today. Moreover, information on environmental performance of carriers is insufficient or unreliable.

    Therefore this is considered the most challenging issue to address, after which other emissions and other modes will be considered.

  • 10. Why should I join?

    SHIPPERS:
    The tool being developed makes it easy for you to request and receive environmental performance information from your road freight transport providers.

    The plan is to create a system where data are easy to enter and provides a valuable benchmark against any other carriers you use and against those you don't.

    You can then use the information to discuss with carriers how best to limit and reduce your own and their CO2  emissions and the environmental impacts of the road freight services they provide to your company; communication on such mtters  becomes far easier, more ransparent and clearly understood, enhancing trust between shipper and carrier.

    Further benefits include:

    • Enhanced brand recognition through a program label
    • Benchmark of environmental performance against industry average
    • Ability to incorporate standardized sustainability criteria within the procurement of transport
    • Access to tools to measure and report the carbon footprint of shipments
    • Be one of the leaders developing the program and driving sustainable road freight transportation in Europe
    • Be part of the industry voice influencing future European policy on sustainable freight transport and reducing emissions from transport

    CARRIERS:
    More and more carriers collect environmental information for themselves and for their clients, as they become increasingly concerned with reducing the environmental impact of their activities. Shippers also look to reduce their own environmental impacts, and those of their key supply partners.  The trouble is that different shippers demand different environmental information - doubling the work that you, as a carrier, have to undertake.

    The Green Freight Europe Programme creates a single European standard database that is easy to submit to, only requires a limited amount of data to start providing results of your environmental performance which is instantly comparable with every other company entering data. You don't have to share it with everyone, but the more data you can submit the better your analysis and comparison against others will be. And it makes sharing such information far easier: with your customers or your peers, or other branches and divisions of your company.

    Communication of performance and suggestions as to how to reduce further the CO  emissions of your fleet or certain operations for specific customers becomes far easier, more transparent and builds trust. And if your customer is a member too, that increases the trust and transparency between your organisations so that you can jointly identify how to limit the environmental impact of  your operations.

    A wider programme of developments is also planned: this will benefit carriers by offering greater visibility on equipment, service and best practicefor enhancing environmental performance. Knowing what you are procuring or using and knowing what the impact is on reduced emissions will be a major advantage for members of Green Freight Europe. There may even be advantageous finance arrangements possible to member companies.

    In short, companies will:

    • Be able to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions
    • Meet sustainability requirements from customers
    • Enhance brand recognition towards climate-conscious customers
    • Get access to standardized and validated environmental performance of carriers
    • Get insight into their carbon emission performance with the possibility to benchmark
    • Benefit from sharing knowledge and best practice with other companies
    • Have the ability to incorporate sustainability criteria within the procurement of transport services, equipment and implementation of certain practices
    • Access tools to measure and report the carbon footprint of their transport operations
  • 11. Why would joining Green Freight Europe now be better than joining later?

    By joining Green Freight Europe now, your company or organisation would:

    • Be one of the leaders developing the program, influencing future policy,
      developing the programme to ensure real, significant and tangible benefits result,  and driving sustainable road freight transportation in Europe
    • Shippers, carriers and logistics service providers joining Green Freight Europe will be 'ahead of the curve' and sending out very powerful messages about the company's proactive stance towards environmental (as well as economic) sustainability.
  • 12. What does it cost to join?

    The membership fees for Green Freight Europe are:

    Regular Members

    2015

    Type of company

    Annual Turnover

    Annual fee

    Very Small

    < €2,5 M

    €0

    Small

    €2,5 M - €5 Mio

    €500,-

    Medium

    €5 M - €10 M

    €1.500,-

    Large

    €10 M - €40 M

    €3.000,-

    Very Large new!

    > €40

    €6.000,-

     

  • 13. What data do members need to submit?

    The data required can be split into three distinct areas, namely company and organisational details, data to be able to calculate CO2 emissions such as litres of fuel consumed, type of vehicle used and distances driven and details on the transport service provided including loading levels and load types.

    Dependent on what the member can supply, 'minimum' input requirements are set in order to enable a degree of benchmarking across all the data submitted.The amount and quality of data determines the accuracy and value to the member of the outputs: the less actual measured or recorded data that is input, the more assumptions have to be made in relation to their impact on CO2 e and CO2 equivalent emissions and the less accurate will be the final score or rating.

  • 14. How often does the data need to be submitted?

    To begin with data will be submitted on an annual basis with data covering a 12 month-reporting period.This has been considered appropriate to take into account any seasonal fluctuations in the data collected.

  • 15. Can I submit data for the whole company or just parts of it?

    Data can be submitted across a whole business or from individual operations.. The higher the degree of granularity in the data within a company the more beneficial the output reports become and detailed analysis is more meaningful.

  • 16. Where do members submit their data?

    The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has been contracted to provide the system for data submission comprising of web portal, databases and tools by which submitted data can be converted into scores or ratings (i.e. Gold, Silver and Bronze). The EST holds and maintains the databases for this purpose at their premises in central London.

  • 17. How do I know what the correct vehicle type is?

    Green Freight Europe's philosophy is to start simple and then build in more complexity in the future when it is appropriate to do so. The current tool uses common terminology and members will be given straightforward options from which to choose. Vehicle types can be as basic as motorcycle, car, van or HGV truck or there will be the option of more detailed data submission, for example a diesel rigid HGV with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) between 7.5t and 17t, so that a more accurate analysis is possible. Again the higher the level of detail submitted by members the less assumptions and default values are used within the tool leading to better benchmarking reports and analysis.

  • 18. What are GHG conversion factors?

    Currently the tool uses conversion factors within the UK's DEFRA GHG Conversion Factors for Company Reporting, because Green Freight Europe needed to start developing a system. There are conversion factors for CO2, CH4 and N2O or CO2e, a factor which includes the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 and N2O as carbon dioxide equivalent. Most other reporting or standards are using CO2e so it was considered appropriate that Green Freight Europe should follow the other standards and report CO2e.

  • 19. Why aren't other conversion factors used?

    It will take time to investigate the many other conversion standards which exist, and since the DEFRA factors are currently implemented in the base tool and seems to work effectively, Green Freight Europe will use them for the time being. Also some Green Freight Europe members are already using the DEFRA conversion factors so there is an element of commonality.

    The Green Freight Europe philosophy is to take a pragmatic and collaborative approach and is cooperating with various initiatives for example COFRET so as not to "re-invent the wheel" in terms of methodology. In effect as long as the members' data are converted using the same factors and with the same methodology then at least all calculated figures would be comparable. The tool is capable of using different conversion factors, so it can always be changed in the future.

  • 20. Does the tool comply with European (CEN) standards?

    In the ongoing CO2-standards discussion,  Green Freight Europe (GFE) adopts a practical approach in compliance with the CEN standard. CO2 measurement and reporting  of European freight transport is a continual improvement process for all European transport partners.

    Since last year, GFE's reporting of CO2 based on distance, amount of goods, and fuel burnt for transportinghas provided a good start of this process, in line with the CEN EN 16 258 standard.

    The simple online-platform to voluntarily provide CO2e transport data is available for all Green Freight Europe members and will provide benchmarking and improvement opportunities for all companies.

  • 21. Do members need to indicate the Euro class of vehicles?

    The Euro class of a vehicle is a measure of its air quality impact, it also indicates how modern and theoretically how fuel efficient the vehicle is; therefore it is considered a useful piece of data. However it is not necessary for the calculation of CO2 emissions and so will be considered an optional submission and included in a Green Freight Europe carrier profile.

  • 22. How is the data scored?

    The member data will be scored according to certain aspects of the data submitted. The following will be taken in to account: a CO2e efficiency result, the level of accuracy in the CO2 calculation for example the degree of assumptions made (or default values used) and the level of completeness of data submitted.

  • 23. How confidential is my data?

    The member's data will remain the property of the individual member and the online system for data submission has the required level of data encryption deemed necessary. However  a shipper and  a carrier in a contract with each other will be able to identify each other provided they authorise such visibility. Others may only see their data if specific authorisation is pre-set in the system. Authorisation to view may be given for individual items of data and results depending on the authorisations set by the person submitting the data.

  • 24. What's to stop people lying about their data?

    Data submitted will be subject to a monitoring and compliance process. Members will make a declaration upon joining the programme that data submitted is accurate to the best of their knowledge and accept liability should false or misleading information be supplied. Also members will agree to supply supporting documentation to Green Freight Europe (or it's appointed agents) for any data submitted and agree to Green Freight Europe audit of this data upon request by Green Freight Europe. A disciplinary process will be established with the potential consequence of suspension or removal of the member from the programme.

  • 25. Will the tools be available in more languages or only in English?

    To begin with, the tool will only be available in English but eventually other European languages will become available.