Ruan leads dairy industry initiative to reduce emissions

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Ruan Transport Corp. – a Des Moines, Iowa-based company and a national leader in dairy hauling – is partnering with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy on its new Environmentally Sustainable Methods for Achieving Responsible Transportation (E-SMART) project, with a goal to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fluid milk transport by 20 percent by 2020.

Jim Mulvenna, Ruan vice president and general manager of West Coast operations, will co-chair E-SMART, which will work with trucking companies to implement fuel-efficiency best practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while saving money on fuel costs.

“Creating a more sustainable dairy supply chain significantly benefits everyone from dairy farmers to American families that enjoy dairy products,” Mulvenna says. “As an E-SMART leader, Ruan will create and implement responsible model procedures that other trucking companies can also adapt to achieve greater sustainability and fuel efficiency.”

The E-SMART project brings together transportation experts, such as Ruan’s Mulvenna, to develop dairy-specific transportation guidelines that will cut the dairy industry’s transportation carbon dioxide emissions by 165,000 metric tons annually, potentially saving 16.5 million gallons of diesel fuel. At an assumed cost of $3.50 per gallon, this savings is equivalent to $57.7 million.

E-SMART will encourage dairy transporters to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, which aims to reduce the impact of freight transport on the environment through fuel-efficient technologies and practices. SmartWay offers free strategic tools and resources that drivers and fleet managers can use to reduce fuel consumption, such as controlling speed and reducing idle time.

Transportation and distribution account for 3 percent of fluid milk’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to Rick Naczi, executive vice president of strategic industry analysis and evaluation at Dairy Management Inc. Naczi manages the industrywide Sustainability Initiative for Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

“There are many significant dairy-specific fuel efficiency opportunities for transportation and distribution,” Naczi says. “Applying retrofits to existing trucks can reduce each truck’s fuel consumption by more than 8 percent while driving, and up to 60 percent while idling. Behavioral changes on the part of the drivers have the potential to improve fuel efficiency by 5 percent to 25 percent.”