Six steps fleet owners can take to start going green

Keagan Russo
Updated Jan 14, 2021
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The fleets of the future will be sustainable. Just last year, California implemented stricter vehicle emissions standards and New York mandated that more energy come from clean sources. Overall, we’ve seen consumers increasingly choose products and services that are environmentally friendly. While COVID-19 has made sustainable day-to-day choices difficult at times (single use plastics and masks are unfortunately health musts), it’s certainly called attention to the impact of our choices.

For businesses, “going green” can seem like a daunting task. You might even worry that it requires a total operations overhaul. The first steps to becoming more sustainable, though, are actionable and achievable without straining your time or that of your drivers. In our view, there are six winning steps to reduce your impact on the environment and help build sustainable business practices today.

Acknowledge that it’s important

Easy, right? Acknowledging the importance of operating an environmentally conscious fleet is the first step towards continued committed action. Aside from the environmental benefits, there is business impact to be realized: According to a Cone Communications CSR study, 89% of all consumers are now “somewhat” or “very” likely to switch to a brand supporting a good cause. Further, companies recognized for their strong commitment to purpose grew at twice the rate of others over the past 12 years.

Evaluate where you are today. What vehicles do you own? Which fuels do you use? Do you support any sustainability initiatives? Once you have a baseline established, it’s time to build.

Idling

This improvement is simple. Train drivers not to idle by turning off their vehicle instead. According to the Department of Energy, eliminating unnecessary idling would be equivalent to removing five million vehicles from the roads and would save three billion gallons of wasted fuel. Car manuals now recommend restarting your car instead of idling, as it saves money at the pump and improves the performance of more modern and durable batteries and engines. Places to consider turning off your car include the lines at drive-through restaurants or banks. For businesses, make sure to turn off your vehicles during that “quick” supply pick-up or customer delivery. It all adds up.

Tire pressure

Lower tire pressure leads to a higher carbon footprint. To remedy this, ensure that your fleet maintains properly inflated tires. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests most drivers could boost their fuel efficiency by between 0.6% and 3% with adequate inflation levels, meaning that each vehicle in your fleet could avoid consuming hundreds of gallons of fuel per year, resulting in measurable differences for both the environment and your fuel expenses.

Efficient routes

There are a number of online tools to help you optimize both single and multiple routes, and many of them have options for minimizing time spent on the road. That means lower fuel costs and less carbon in the atmosphere.

Provide recycling bags

In addition to lowering emissions, your fleet can become more eco-friendly by limiting waste. Provide recycling bags for your drivers and make sure there is an accessible receptacle at the end of their shift to encourage sustainable behaviors.

Track and offset your footprint with a fuel card

Supply your drivers with a fuel card that automatically tracks fuel consumption data on your behalf. With this information, you’re equipped to easily measure progress, purchase carbon offsets and go carbon neutral.

There are even cards that not only track your fuel consumption data, but also automatically purchase carbon offsets for you – further easing the job of sustainability for the fleet owner.

So far, we’ve detailed six short-term solutions for sustainably-minded fleet owners, but there are equally attainable long-term changes worth considering.

To accompany your fuel usage efforts, measure the size of your office space and calculate your carbon offset needs. Take stock of what other local businesses or larger competitors are doing in terms of sustainability and incorporate their lessons.

Ultimately, you are trying to best serve the customer and community. In addition, many of the six steps to going “green” are also methods to save costs – a boon during difficult economic conditions. By doing good for the environment, you are not only better meeting the expectations of today’s consumer, but also preparing for success tomorrow.

Keagan Russo is senior vice president of North America SMB (Fuelman & Mastercard) for Fleetcor.