Cleaner trucks are better for businesses – and dairy lovers everywhere
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Unless you grow, hunt or catch your own food, most of what you eat makes its way to your local grocery store by truck. Whether it’s your pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream made in Vermont, your quart of Stonyfield yogurt made in New Hampshire, or pretty much anything else that ends up on your table, it probably took a ride on a tractor-trailer averaging just six miles per gallon.

Heavy-duty trucks move about 70 percent of the freight crossing the United States, burning almost 2.7 million barrels of oil every single day. Those trucks pump almost half a billion tons of climate-damaging carbon pollution into the air each year. And they are the fastest-growing single source of carbon emissions in the country.  We’re heading in the wrong direction.

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We believe cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks are better for our businesses, our customers, and our country—not to mention the planet.  So we are supporting the adoption of new national rules on truck fuel efficiency and emissions from the National Highway Transportation Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.  At Ben & Jerry’s and Stonyfield—and at businesses from international giants like General Mills to homegrown firms like Lundberg Family Farms—we all agree that we want to see a 40 percent reduction in fuel use by heavy-duty trucks by 2025.

Strong fuel efficiency standards make economic sense. Boosting fuel efficiency by 40 percent would reduce freight rates by about seven percent. This would help businesses’ bottom lines considerably, since companies spend about $650 billion on long haul trucking each year. That helps us get your favorite yogurt or ice cream to your grocery store more sustainably. Families would likely get a break too, as the Consumer Federation of America estimates annual savings of $250 per U.S. household. Burning less diesel means cleaner air, which helps control healthcare costs. And using less fuel helps cushion our economy from oil price swings.

And then, there’s climate change. Burning less fossil fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps curb climate change. Being agricultural-based companies and close to our supply chains, we have seen the climate-related challenges growers and farmers face, from increasing droughts and severe weather to shifting planting and harvest dates and changes in growing zones.  That matters to our bottom line, because our businesses depend on being able to get vanilla beans from Madagascar and Uganda, cocoa from the Dominican Republic and Ivory Coast, and bananas from Costa Rica and Ecuador. And we are committed to doing our part by cutting our energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s the reasoning behind our efficiency and renewable-energy efforts, from Stonyfield’s long-time commitment to offsetting the carbon from energy used to make it’s yogurt to Ben & Jerry’s plan to get to 100 percent clean energy at all its U.S. sites by 2020. But when it comes to getting our products to you, we rely on other companies to ship our pints and cups to stores across the country. Those trucks are beyond our control.

If everybody uses cleaner, more efficient trucks, we can be sure of reducing our businesses’ carbon footprints, no matter who’s doing the driving. Strong national standards for fuel efficiency and emissions level the playing field for companies that ship their products by truck. They also give truck and technology companies the market certainty they need to commit to developing cleaner ways to move freight.

Change can take time, and innovation usually costs money up front. But ensuring that the trucks on American roads burn less fossil fuel and run cleaner is an investment that will pay off in a stronger economy, cleaner air, and a healthier planet.

Lisa Drake is director of sustainability innovation for New Hampshire-based Stonyfield, the top-selling brand of organic yogurt in the United States. Chris Miller is social mission activism manager for Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s, whose ice cream and other frozen treats are sold around the world. Both are members of BICEPan advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.