Companies serious about going green are looking beyond the four walls of their facilities and outside at the larger supply chain. Cost is no longer the only factor that distribution and manufacturing managers consider when selecting a method and mode of shipping. They are evaluating which mode and route effectively reduces their overall carbon footprint in support of their green initiatives.

New software has emerged that allows managers to calculate the carbon emissions generated by each shipment and view various options for reducing those emissions. An example of this type of software has just been released by third-party logistics provider (3PL) Freight Management Inc. (FMI, Anaheim, Calif.). And, it’s available online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at www.freightmgmtinc.com.

As part of FMI’s new OptiGreen initiative, shippers access the company’s Distribution Pollution Solution on the Internet and enter shipment weight, mode of transport, origin and destination zip codes. The software then calculates carbon emissions between departure and arrival and creates a report showing the amount of carbon emissions generated for that shipment.

The software generates the information using a combination of expert industry research and standards outlined in the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Initiative, an international accounting tool used by governments and businesses to quantify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

The GHG Protocol is the result of a 10-year partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The first edition of The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, was published in 2001, and in 2006, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted the standard as the basis for its ISO 14064-I: Specification with Guidance at the Organization Level for Quantification and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals.

Once the report is available, the OptiGreen program recommends alternate shipping strategies, OptiGreenmethods or routes to reduce emissions. For example, the software can recommend other modes of shipping or ways to consolidate shipments.

As a side benefit of using the online tool, companies can reduce fuel costs and operate more efficiently, according to FMI. The 3PL suggests that companies with freight costs exceeding $1 million per year can directly benefit from OptiGreen. However, the tool is available to any company seeking to identify ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“OptiGreen is FMI’s answer to the growing concern over global warming and the impact of carbon emissions from the shipping process,” says Bob Walters, president of FMI. “We designed OptiGreen for two types of companies: those that operate multiple warehouses and want to minimize transit time and freight costs, and those that want to reduce pershipment carbon emissions.”