Like any company that contracts for manufactured goods, we need to move those goods from place to place. Planes, trains, trucks and boats all play a part in getting the materials for our products to our supply chain partners; moving finished products to our warehouses; and then transporting those products to our customers. It’s a complex cycle with multiple transportation steps and other logistical challenges. And that’s good news, because it means we can look at many points in the process to pinpoint areas for improved sustainability.
When first determining our baseline carbon footprint in 2009, we did an extensive evaluation of our carbon emissions related to transportation. First, we calculated inbound and outbound transportation for our products on the following basis:
- From paper mill to printer
- Books from printer to warehouse
- Books from warehouse to our customer
We also include in these calculations any shipments of products that we don’t print (audio CDs, i>clickers, etc.) and all books printed abroad. Based on this information, we calculated our ton miles by modality (ocean freight, trucks, etc.), and gave this information to UPS. UPS provided us an emissions calculation that we used as part of the basis for our carbon footprint calculation.
Another area of consideration is how our employees commute to work, and our company’s expenditures on travel and transportation for meetings, author travel, and the Macmillan car fleet used by our sales reps. These calculations were also added to our carbon footprint estimate.
After understanding the overall impact of our carbon emissions, we are now looking at each component of our transportation to understand how and what we can change. It seems like each day, we uncover new areas for exploration and change – and we act swiftly to make changes when those changes make sense. Whether moving to hybrid or EPA-certified SmartWay company cars or planning our inbound and outbound shipments with greater lead times to optimize transportation emissions, we’re taking steps each day towards improved sustainability.