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How J.B. Hunt is Making Sustainability a Priority

wide shot of truck on highway green trees

Being a good environmental steward is important to our company, the communities we serve and the planet.

Recently, J.B. Hunt announced our new goal to reduce our carbon emission intensity by 32 percent by 2034 (baseline 2019). Emission intensity measures the volume of absolute emissions emitted against a relevant business output, allowing for business growth while still showing emissions improvement on a per-unit basis. In other words, we’re working to reduce emissions relative to every shipment (or unit). In this way we can continue to grow our business and still make progress on reducing carbon emissions.

Our overall goal is to keep advancing the company’s vision of moving the freight industry towards a low-carbon future. Reducing our carbon emission intensity is expected to have a positive impact throughout the entire supply chain.

There are three areas we plan to focus on to reach our goal:

  • Incorporating alternative powered equipment into our fleet
  • Expanding the use of biogenic fuels
  • Improving fuel economy (diesel powered miles-per-gallon “MPG”)

However, these goals are dependent on specific progresses made in the technology and infrastructure needed to run day-to-day operations on an industry-wide scale. Developments like enhancements to commercial motor vehicles, charging and refueling infrastructure, expanding capacity on the electrical grid and more will be important to monitor and incorporate as they come.

Since 2020, the J.B. Hunt 360°® technology platform has provided freight visibility and helped company drivers avoid nearly six million empty miles. While relevant to the emissions-reduction conversation, carbon emissions avoided by intermodal conversion and empty-mile reduction do not contribute to the company achieving its reduction target but remain important to the company.

Keep reading to learn about more ways J.B. Hunt is pursuing sustainability:

CLEAN Transport™

J.B. Hunt has launched CLEAN Transport™, a carbon-neutral program that provides our intermodal customers an easy and flexible method to acquire carbon offset credits equivalent to the emissions produced by their shipments.

Intermodal shipping already reduces a customer’s carbon footprint by more than half. The remaining emissions can easily be made up with carbon offset credits, creating carbon-neutral shipping.

The program is designed to be highly customizable to fit each customer’s unique business and sustainability goals. Our customer identifies the shipments they would like to be carbon neutral, the carbon offset project they would like to support and the carbon registry they want to work with. Analysts then calculate the customer’s emissions. At the end of the quarter, the customer will acquire carbon offset credits equivalent to the emissions created by their intermodal shipments.   

Intermodal Services

One of the most environmentally friendly ways to move freight is through J.B. Hunt Intermodal. Intermodal shipping is 2.5 times more efficient and cuts carbon emissions by 60 percent compared to over-the-road transport alone. Over the past decade, J.B. Hunt’s intermodal service has helped avoid an estimated 30 million metric tons of CO2e emissions.

In 2021, approximately 3.49 million metric tons of CO2e were avoided through J.B. Hunt’s intermodal service offerings. That is the equivalent of:

  • 58,168,538 urban tree seedlings planted and grown for 10 years 
  • 758,720 passenger vehicles off the roads for one year 
  • 420,495 average U.S. homes’ total annual energy consumption 

Since we first began offering intermodal shipping options in 1989, J.B. Hunt has invested millions of dollars in making the intermodal marketplace more efficient so we can help even more of our customers ship more sustainably. J.B. Hunt has the largest company-owned intermodal fleet in North America, and we recently announced plans to increase our intermodal capacity by over 40 percent in the next three to five years. J.B. Hunt estimates that an additional seven to 11 million shipments could be converted to intermodal, supporting long-term growth opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Route Optimization with J.B. Hunt 360°®

A key factor in becoming more sustainable is reducing waste within the supply chain. By removing waste, we reduce costs for our customers and cut carbon emissions. To remove this waste, we first need to be able to identify where it is.

Our industry-leading J.B. Hunt 360 platform brings transparency to the transportation marketplace so we can help identify and remove waste.

With access to a pool of nearly one million trucks, including qualified third-party carriers, shippers can find the capacity they need, when they need it. Carriers can use the platform to help with empty mile reduction – reducing the number of miles driven without hauling freight. When a carrier completes a delivery, they can log onto the platform right from their smartphone to find another load ready to pick up nearby. Using the data points given to us by the shippers and carriers on the platform, J.B. Hunt can give users data-driven, actionable insights into business practices and predictions that can help them operate more efficiently in the future.

In addition to J.B. Hunt 360, engineers in our Intermodal, Dedicated Contract Services® and Highway Services units use proprietary optimization software to make the most out of every delivery. This software helps our engineers model and plan out routes that maximize efficiency.

Alternative Fuels and New Technologies

As fuel is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions within the supply chain, new fuels and energy sources are essential to our sustainability efforts.

One of the alternative fuel options J.B. Hunt has invested in is biodiesel. In 2021, 51 percent of all fuel we purchased was a bio-blended diesel product or renewable diesel. J.B. Hunt was also one of the first transportation companies to place an order for Class 8 battery electric trucks. J.B. Hunt ran a pilot program using battery electric vehicles in our Final Mile Services® business unit between 2019 and 2020. There’s been a lot of progress in the development of electric vehicle technology and the infrastructure that supports it. We are looking forward to the day that we’ll begin including electric vehicles into our fleet beyond the few we’re currently testing.

Fleet Modernization

J.B. Hunt strives to equip our fleet with the latest in emissions-reduction technology. One way we do this is by maintaining a modern fleet with an average truck age of only 2.5 years as compared to the industry average of about 5.4 years. We also outfit our equipment with features that maximize fuel efficiency, including aerodynamic packages for both tractors and trailers, governors to limit speed and improve fuel efficiency, idle-reducing cab heaters and automatic manual transmissions (AMTs). By the end of 2022, we will have converted nearly 100 percent of our fleet to AMTs. AMTs are approximately 1.5 percent more fuel efficient than traditional manual transmissions. J.B. Hunt estimates that switching to AMTs resulted in an overall carbon emissions reduction of 21,877 metric tons of CO2e in 2020.

Creating a Greener Future

Whether it’s testing out a new fuel alternative, developing new technologies or working individually with our customers to help them achieve their carbon-neutral goals, J.B. Hunt is tackling sustainability.  We’re looking at the big picture, and we’re finding areas to cut waste and improve efficiency in each of our business units. This is all part of our mission to create the most efficient transportation network in North America.

Find out how J.B. Hunt can help your business reach its sustainability goals. Contact your J.B. Hunt representative today!