Retailers breathe fresh air into U.S. ports

NEW YORK — Trucks that operate around major U.S. ports tend to be heavier polluters than their over the road counterparts but that situation could change thanks to a new initiative that has drawn support from major retailers and government and non-government entities.

Such retailers as Best Buy, Home Depot, JCPenney, Lowe’s, Target and Walmart are part of an organization called the Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT) along with Hewlett Packard, Nike and leading transportation providers. The CRT teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch a program called the, “EPA SmartWay Drayage Program.”

The new effort is designed to combat the issue of air pollution around the nation’s ports that results from drayage, or the process of moving freight around ports. Trucks that perform that task tend to be older, less efficient models that pollute more.

Through the SmartWay Drayage program, port trucking companies and independent owner-operators sign a partnership agreement and commit to track diesel emissions, replace older dirtier trucks with cleaner, newer ones, and achieve at least a 50% reduction in particulate matter and 25% reduction in nitrous oxide below the national industry average, within three years.

The trucking companies are incented to do so because the retailers involved also sign a partnership agreement where they commit to ship at least 75% of their port cargo with SmartWay trucking carriers within three years.  By giving business priority to SmartWay drayage carriers, the program creates a market-driven approach to incentivize emissions reductions at port communities across the country.

Rick Gabrielson, Target’s director of import operations, serves as CRT president and said, “We at Target, along with the members of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, are proud to have partnered with the U.S. EPA and the Environmental Defense Fund to create a program to reduce diesel pollution at ports across the country.  This partnership will generate private sector investment in clean technology, improve the environmental quality of our nation’s port communities and demonstrate the commitment we have made as the shipping industry’s leaders to emissions reductions.”