Eyes on the road — and our environment
As a transportation company, we have a responsibility to move freight in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. In addition to helping preserve the environment, our green initiatives also allow us to operate with efficiency and with lower costs. Every day, we prove it is possible to provide affordable, top-of-the-line freight transportation services while remaining good stewards of the Earth.
In 2004, Estes became one of the first trucking companies to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SmartWay Transport Partnership. This innovative collaboration between the freight industry and government improves energy efficiency and security while reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We also use SmartWay-approved vendors for purchases of new tractors, trailers and tires.
Whether in our shops, terminals, or in our trucks, we conserve natural resources through:
- Recycling metal: We send all of our scrap metal to recyclers, keeping tons of waste out of landfills nationwide.
- Recycling water: We protect groundwater by having a licensed disposal company collect and recycle our used antifreeze, oil and oil filters in an environmentally responsible manner.
- Improved shop cloths: We conserve water and electricity—and help keep detergents and other chemicals out of the environment—by replacing washable cloth shop rags with biodegradable, paper-based clean-up sheets.
- Paper conservation: We have reduced our company-wide paper consumption by countless millions of sheets by providing customers with paperless e-commerce solutions (online shipping forms and EDI and Web Services).
- Refurbished parts and components: We use rebuilt/remanufactured components when repairing units, including starters, alternators, brake shoes, transmissions, differentials and other parts.
- LED lighting: All equipment purchases use LED lighting. This long-life lighting technology has significantly reduced the number of light bulbs we discard every year.
- Repurposed materials: Our nationwide network of more than 200 terminals reuses cardboard and pallets as dunnage to help secure customer freight during transit.
- Recapped tires: We have extended tread life and reduced waste by recapping more than 780,000 tires since 2008.
We follow environmentally responsible procedures to keep harmful pollutants out of the air and groundwater in the communities we serve.
- Nonhazardous cleaning solutions: Our shop facilities use a nonhazardous solution for parts cleaning to minimize waste disposal. And to help protect groundwater from contaminants, no chlorinated solvents are used in our shops.
- Smarter wash systems: Many of our wash systems feature oil-water separators, plus closed-loop applications that minimize discharge to sewer systems. For facilities without wash systems, outside contractors reclaim all wash water. We’ve also eliminated the use of acids in our trailer-washing process to help prevent metals from seeping into the groundwater.
- Refrigerant capture: When servicing air conditioning units, we always capture Freon and other harmful refrigerants to ensure their disposal in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Better tank systems: Most of our in-house fueling facilities use above-ground tank systems, which meet or exceed all federal, state and local regulations. Many are equipped with canopies to help prevent storm-water runoff, as well as card readers that limit potential spillage.
- Maintenance: We follow more efficient schedules for routine vehicle maintenance, which reduces the amount of waste oil to recycle.
- Mosquito prevention: Our mounted wheel program helps prevent the buildup of standing water in tires, which eliminates breeding sites for mosquitoes that carry disease-causing viruses.
- Wheel refurbishing: We’ve reduced the use of aerosols in our shops by sending our wheels to responsible outside contractors for restoration.
- Earth-friendly parts washing: Shops feature self-contained sinks for washing vehicle parts, which help prevent oil and chemicals from entering the environment.
- Rack-stored batteries: We store our vehicle batteries in special racks that collect acids and other hazardous chemicals.
Solar is a nonpolluting, renewable resource that delivers reliable power year-round. We have installed solar-power systems in our Baltimore, MD; Elkton, MD; Greensboro, NC; and West Middlesex, PA, terminals.
- Greensboro’s system includes 2,760 solar panels that generate about 1,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year.
- Baltimore’s system generates about 320 megawatt-hours from its 1,100 rooftop panels. Elkton’s 1,232 panels and the West Middlesex installation of 2,150 panels generate more than 777 megawatt-hours annually.
- Approximately 93% of the Elkton terminal’s annual energy needs are met though its solar power system, which accounts for an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of about 280 tons. Baltimore’s system covers the reduction of about another 250 tons each year.
- Greensboro’s system is designed to produce enough clean electricity to power all of the buildings on site. It accounts for the annual reduction in CO2 emissions of about 775 tons. And the West Middlesex system produces enough power to cover 90% of the facility’s energy consumption.
- The following comparable equivalents illustrate the magnitude of our solar power systems’ combined environmental impact through reduced annual CO2 emissions:
- 732 passenger vehicles driven for one year
- One year’s energy use by 663 homes
- The annual consumption of 407,598 gallons of diesel fuel or 356,189 gallons of gasoline
We make responsible decisions about fuel usage. From route-planning technology to ensuring we carry freight as efficiently as possible, we work hard to minimize our trucks’ fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.
- Better fuels
- Bio-diesel: We use B5 blend bio-diesel in some states.
- ULSD fuel: We only use ULSD (Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel) fuel, which reduces the emission of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.
- Conversion to propane: Our forklifts have been converted from gasoline/diesel to propane.
- Optimizing fuel efficiency
- PrePass and EZ Pass: Our drivers utilize PrePass and EZ Pass to bypass weigh stations and toll plazas, meaning trucks spend less time idling.
- Efficient Driving: Every tractor is equipped with computerized PeopleNet® hardware that records driver inefficiencies that can waste fuel, such as long idle, excess speed and over-RPM metrics.
- Fuel economy monitors: Trucks are equipped with technology for tracking and measuring fuel economy. We can then address any issues that might lead to wasted fuel.
- Improved aerodynamics: We have installed aerodynamic skirts on long-haul trailers to cut fuel consumption up to 5%. Our equipment also features air fairings and side fairings, which further improves vehicle aerodynamics.
- Reduced oil consumption: We use synthetic lubricants for all drivetrains (transmissions and rears) to reduce friction and improve fuel mileage.
- Low-profile tires: We have converted our entire fleet to low-profile tires to reduce rolling resistance and lower fuel consumption.
- Speed management: We’ve reduced power-unit speed from 68 to 66 mph to increase vehicle fuel mileage.
- Weight reduction: By using aluminum rather than steel fuel tanks, we reduce power unit weight by 65 pounds, which improves fuel economy.
- Card-locked fuel systems: We use card-locked systems for our vehicles to foil wasteful, unauthorized access to fuel. Our systems also employ breakaway hoses to help prevent potential soil and water pollution from fuel spills.
- Smarter Route Planning
- Innovative route-planning software: We use sophisticated route-planning software to ensure that we’re carrying freight as efficiently as possible, thereby limiting greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary fuel consumption.
- Fewer empty loads: Through engineering and technology, we have reduced the percentage of empty miles since the mid-2000s by more than 35%. That both decreases our emissions footprint and keeps costs down for our customers.
- Intermodal transport: In 2018, we reduced our carbon footprint by 714.8 million metric tons by utilizing rail when appropriate.
We have replaced older, less-efficient tractors with EPA-certified models. In fact, at the end of 2018, 70% of our tractors were four years old or newer. Effective driver behaviors, efficient engines and streamlined routing are crucial for limiting a trucking company’s carbon footprint. Our strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions addresses these fundamentals.
- Increasingly effective operator practices: “The most efficient drivers get about 30% better fuel economy than the least efficient drivers” (Cummins Inc. Bulletin 4971233). That’s one of the reasons we installed onboard PeopleNet computers in our tractors. The result is increased visibility into tractor use (speed, braking and other engine data), which allows Estes to better manage driving performance. In addition, we increase efficiency with:
- Mandatory pre-trip inspections to verify proper tire inflation
- Driver training that addresses optimal shifting
- Speed-management and idling-shutdown tools
Better driver efficiency and newer, more efficient equipment results in millions of dollars of fuel-cost savings and a correspondingly impressive reduction in emissions.
- Engine efficiency: When a machine needs less engine power to perform its function, it burns less fuel, emits less CO2 and eats up less fuel-production energy. We have developed a deliberate equipment-investment strategy that allows us to keep our equipment in top condition and our engine efficiency at an optimal level. From sleeper units to city trucks and everything in between, we keep a close eye on how our equipment performs to ensure that we are being good stewards of our environment.
- Streamlined routing: Route efficiency results in shipments traveling fewer miles. We are constantly evaluating and streamlining our lane network to get shipments to their destination more directly while limiting fuel use. We also work to maximize every load to ensure that we’re minimizing empty miles.
- Carbon footprint calculations: We base our carbon footprint calculations on fuel consumption and miles per gallon. Over the years, we’ve managed to keep our carbon footprint relatively flat, despite the growth in our fleet.