Sustainable transport

Register your interest in this issue

Does your business have practices and policies to promote sustainable transport?


No EXCELLENT answers have been published for this question.

GOOD Answers

No GOOD answers have been published for this question.

POOR Answers

No POOR answers have been published for this question.

This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018

The position of successive governments and authoritative bodies has been that moving ever more people and goods, by whatever means, is both socially desirable and economically beneficial. Far less attention has traditionally been paid to either the significant costs that transport imposes on communities and on the environment - through environmental damage, greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, congestion, road wear and accidents - or in considering the best form that transport can take to enable sustainable living over the longer term.

Every business delivers products and services, has staff getting to and from work and, directly or indirectly, moves goods in or out. This means that transport, together with its environmental impact, has relevance for every business. 36 percent of total final consumption of UK energy products in 2012 came from the transport sector. Within this sector, road transport accounted for 74 percent of energy consumption, air transport 23 per cent and water transport only 3 percent. Road users included both passenger and road freight transport. These transport activities have significant environmental impact, with high levels of air and noise pollution associated with human ill health and premature death, causing immediate environmental damage and contributing to climate change. Yet, around 29% of HGV travel in the UK is empty running and 47% of those carrying goods are less than full (either by weight or volume).

Business can help to mitigate these negative impacts by implementing simple, practical steps which can both increase transport efficiency and potentially save money across their operations. However, identifying the most efficient means of freight movement or product delivery does require careful consideration. Variables include speed and/or time constraints, distance, the physical characteristics of the goods to be moved, and the particular pros and cons of the modes of transport (road, rail, air or water). As an example, Just-In-Time (JIT) production requires small but continuous batch delivery of materials combined with minimal warehouse inventory. JIT’s transport needs will differ from an e-commerce enterprise, which relies on a seamless system that can both deliver goods quickly and make any returns promptly. Meanwhile, a small business, such as one that infrequently sends out documents, may find a bike courier to be adequate over a small distance though over greater distances, another type of courier may be more appropriate. Whatever the business model, the approach to transport and transportation is highly specific.

Of course, transport needs are also combined with the business drivers of intense competition, tight margins, rising energy/fuel prices and, increasingly, a commitment to meet CO2 emission reduction targets. Through careful planning, businesses can devise appropriate transportation strategies to move things more efficiently, at a lower cost, using less fuel, and so mitigating environmental impact along the way. For example, becoming a member of a car club, as an individual or a business, is an innovative way to access a vehicle only for the period it will be needed. Taking steps to reduce use of the ‘grey fleet’ of vehicles, those owned by staff but used on company business, is another way to reduce costs and emissions.

Organisations often start ‘greening’ their transportation by reducing fuel use: fuel efficiency saves money, reduces waste and cuts pollution. The first steps can be as simple as checking how much fuel is used, when and where. From this, an organisation can map out its distribution/transport operations, together with associated fuel use and carbon footprint. Often couriers, freight haulage companies and shippers are also part of the pattern. Working with such businesses, as their clients or collaborators, and making use of their expertise in sustainable transport can help to put any business on a more sustainable path.

Further steps towards developing a more sustainable transport strategy include:
● Creating a simple document to summarise the business distribution/transport operations
● Assessing the carbon footprint of all such activities
● Choosing or reviewing the appropriate mode: road, rail, air, sea or non-motorised
● Considering network redesign: more effective use of what you have to reduce the need for transport
● Making access to public transport and bikeways a key criteria in selecting a business location
● Teleworking and other changes in working practices that reduce the need for staff travel
● Considering the possibility of flexible working practices
● Training company drivers to be more ‘eco-aware’ to reduce fuel consumption
● ‘Greening’ the company fleet such as using electric or hybrid vehicles
● Conducting regular ‘vehicle needs analyses’ by reviewing whether new vehicles are needed
● Upgrading fleet vehicles, reducing cost and CO2 emissions by improving fuel consumption
● Consolidating pallet or container use, so a quantity of cargo is bundled into a single unit
● Ensuring employees consolidate business travel with each other
● Collaborative distribution: sharing spare capacity, even with a business in a different sector.

Car Clubs

'Car clubs' provide the convenience of a car, without the hassle of repairs, servicing, renewing insurance and parking. The car club organization owns a fleet of vehicles that are parked within a locality and their members arrange, in advance, when they want to use one. Members pay only for the time the car is used. Characteristically, this might be for only a couple of hours.


A company, or employee of a company, that transports commercial packages and documents.


Commercial transportation of goods in bulk, by train, aircraft, ship or truck

Fuel Efficiency

'Fuel efficiency' is using the minimum energy to maximum effect by means of planning, training, education and management.


A company, or person, employed in the transport of goods or materials by road

Modal Characteristics

'Modal characteristics' include reliability, flexibility, load capacity of the transport type under consideration.

Modes of Transport

'Modes of transport' include road, rail, air or water. Generally, for commodities with time constraints and/or service guarantees, road vehicles are the preferred mode due to speed, flexibility and reliability. Rail and sea dominate for bulky, low-value products and air freight for high value goods - such as fresh vegetables or flowers. The transport cost often needs to be weighed against customer service satisfaction and performance guarantees.

Sustainable Transport

'Sustainable transport' is any mode of transport that is accessible, affordable, efficient, financially sustainable, environment friendly, and safe . It might include non-motorised transport such as walking or cycling, shared transport, driver training, electric or hybrid vehicles, fuel efficient engines/vehicles, improved product design or rationalised business operations.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

Describe practices, policies or strategy for sustainable transport within the business

Explain why a preferred mode of transport is selected

All Businesses MAY

State whether sustainable transport is part of their philosophy or mission

Describe how transport use is monitored and evaluated

Indicate whether any targets have been set to make transport more sustainable and describe how these are measured

Indicate where they publish relevant information, and provide hyperlinks if available

Share any successes or valuable lessons learned

Describe any future intentions regarding this issue

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question, listing the business reasons, any mitigating circumstances or other reasons that apply

All Businesses MAY

Mention future intentions regarding this issue

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Sustainable transport is a strategic issue

Examples of policies and practices which may support an EXCELLENT statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

  1. Sustainable transport is a core statement/philosophy
  2. successful track record in achieving practical targets to make transport more sustainable
  3. Effective and innovative mix of appropriate modes which maximise efficiency
  4. Upgrading and/or greening fleet
  5. Consolidated and/or collaborative distribution
  6. Management and staff actively engaged with supply chain/contractors
  7. Has an internal cap on carbon emission
  8. Purchasing carbon offsets
  9. Cited as an exemplar in its sector
To receive a score of 'Good'

Well-defined strategies exist for achieving sustainable transport

Examples of policies and practices which may support a GOOD statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

  1. Clear targets set to make transport more sustainable
  2. Transport use patterns monitored, evaluated and improvised regularly
  3. Conducting walking and cycling programmes and arranging car pools to lower carbon emissions
  4. Collaborative working to increase efficiency
  5. Evident reduction in need for transport through actions undertaken
  6. Staff fully trained in, engaged with and conscious of sustainable commuting
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Awareness exists; ad hoc practices have been made in this respect

Examples of policies and practices which may support an OKAY statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

  1. Small size of company prevents active consideration of the issue
  2. Staff works remotely, only meet occasionally, no physical products
  3. Some conscious efforts to incorporate sustainability in transport such as actively advocating public transport amongst employees
  4. Intention of furthering efforts with increase in company size/furthering budget
To receive a score of 'Poor'

Little or no action taken to make transportation sustainable

Examples of policies and practices which may support a POOR statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

  1. Statement of future intent
  2. Has not considered clean technologies/fuels for travel and transportation
  3. Some policies exist but are not implemented