Supply chain service provider J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.’s (NASDAQ: JBHT) first sustainability report for subsidiary J.B. Hunt Transport Inc. found an increase in scope 1 emissions but a decrease in carbon intensity. The report highlights the company’s social and environmental sustainability progress in 2020.

“We are not only committed to combating climate change but also to improving the places where we live and work. That is why we consider business decisions that prioritize positive ESG impacts,” said the report, released Friday.

Direct emissions and carbon intensity stats

From 2018 to 2020, J.B. Hunt’s number of company-operated ton-miles increased by 15.6%. Its scope 1 emissions grew by 5.7%, and its scope 1 carbon intensity decreased by 8.5% in the same period. That means overall emissions increased as the company’s operations grew. However, the carbon emissions associated with each ton-mile improved.

J.B. Hunt previously set a goal to reduce its carbon intensity by 3% in terms of metric tons (MT) of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per million company-operated ton-miles by 2025, using 2019 as a base year. The report did not mention overall emissions reduction targets for the future.

In 2020, the company reportedly “evaluated the feasibility of establishing a science-based target (SBT) aligned with the Paris Accord,” while companies across the globe are committing to the Paris Agreement and net-zero emissions targets for 2050 or sooner.

“We will continue to give serious consideration and evaluation to whether and when we may reasonably establish an SBT,” the report said.

Other environmental highlights

J.B. Hunt has focused on reducing empty miles and improving the efficiency and mode choices for transporting goods. Its CLEAN Transport Carbon Calculator shows the CO2 emissions associated with over-the-road trucking compared to intermodal transportation. J.B. Hunt said that intermodal is “2.5 times more efficient than highway truck transportation.”

“We estimate that in 2020, our intermodal segment helped to avoid 3.5 million MT CO2e compared to transportation by truck alone — the equivalent of removing more than 750,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a year,” the report said.

J.B. Hunt 360° is another tool the company uses to improve supply chain efficiencies and avoid empty miles. In addition to making efficiency improvements and utilizing intermodal transportation, J.B. Hunt committed to converting 25% of its day cab and straight truck fleet to alternative fuels by 2035, depending on the availability of alternative fuel vehicles and the total cost of ownership. 

The company also said it is preparing for a low-carbon future by “participating in pilot programs for renewable natural gas vehicles, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles,” John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, said in the report.

In 2020, J.B. Hunt completed its first delivery using the Freightliner eCascadia, Daimler Trucks North America’s all-electric Class 8 truck.

As renewable energy grows in popularity and drops in price, J.B. Hunt is investing in multiple solar projects that will “offset more than 80% of the electricity consumed at our main corporate headquarters.” 

One solar project, scheduled to break ground in 2022, is a solar carport that will simultaneously provide cover for employee vehicles and produce 420 kilowatts of AC power. It will also feature 10 electric vehicle charging stations.

Community and worker support

Similar to many sustainability reports, J.B. Hunt’s has a strong focus on supporting its workers and the communities it serves. The company reported additional investments in diversity and inclusion groups and training, COVID-19 safety and support, and community outreach programs.

In addition to expanding existing employee resource groups, the company created PLUS(+), a group for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ or support those who do.

“Inclusion is a key part of everything we do in our organization. It helps drive us, move us forward and accelerate into our next generation of innovation at J.B. Hunt,” Shelley Simpson, CCO and executive of people and human resources, said in a statement.

J.B. Hunt celebrated 129 people with 3 million miles of safe driving, 18 with 4 million miles and the first person to reach 5 million miles of safe driving in the company’s history. But, safety goes beyond driving.

The company donated a total of $630,000 in COVID-19 relief and supplies. J.B. Hunt’s corporate and employee giving across health care, education, veteran support and crisis management exceeded $4.2 million in 2020.

“We are taking the next step on our sustainability journey,” Roberts said. “We are excited about this progress and are proud to be leaders in sustainable transportation, helping to drive the industry toward a low-carbon future.”

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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