Freight Efficiency


Sustainable Business Council members are keen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their transport-related operations. They say they would most like to work together on freight efficiency opportunities.

This is because:

  • the freight task is growing, with a projected 58% increase by 2042 vs 2012.[1]
  • freight is a large part of an organisation's carbon footprint and traditionally an area under-explored for efficiency opportunities.
  • the freight task and its supporting system is changing. Freight owners need an integrated network, across all modes, which is supported by legislation and investment.
  • members had created some efficiency gains from their own internal projects, but knew there would be greater opportunities if they worked together better.

Who is involved?

The Freight Efficiency Group is made up of freight owners, operators and infrastructure companies.

The success of the group's work stems from their sharing of learnings and views from different parts of the freight system.

Purpose statement

The group agreed to develop a statement about what they are working toward. This has provided clarity on what they want to work together on:

“For the New Zealand freight industry to be successful, we need an integrated, inter-modal and efficient transport system. The freight industry can make a significant contribution to reducing our emissions from the transport sector.  We will achieve this by:

  • creating an environment where collaboration and partnerships are the norm by raising awareness and influencing freight owners and consumers’ expectations and choices;
  • broadening considerations for services beyond cost alone to include health and safety, environmental benefits, innovation, standardisation and greater  transparency on performance; and
  • working closely with government and other agencies to drive strategic decision-making, and technology and innovation solutions, which deliver efficiencies.

Programme outcomes

  1. Kiwirail uptake

    The group worked with Kiwirail to identify the barriers to uptake and work on changes to the customer service model, which will see them opt to use rail more. Kiwirail shared their business constraints with the group, as well as their emissions calculation tool called Steel Wheels.

  2. Sustainable Freight Procurement Guidelines

    The group knows their procurement practices could be the key to raising industry standards on efficiency and emissions reduction. The group wants freight owners to move away from procuring freight services based on the cheapest cost alone. They believe a shift away from purely transactional relationships to proactive partnerships will create mutual benefits, and position the industry to be more successful in the long-term. It will help them compete better internationally.

    The guidelines have been developed by the freight owners in the group. They provide information on procurement and how it can be used to form partnerships with operators that consider best practice for emissions reduction and sustainability. The group agreed on common requirements, which they are using in their tender processes.

    During the development of the guidelines, the freight operators were invited to provide feedback. The group thought it was great to see direct competitors in the same room talking to each other about the opportunities for New Zealand and greater good of the industry. Members of the group have asked the Sustainable Business Council to try to extend the conversation to the broader industry.

  3. Freight sector engagement workshops

    SBC partnered with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to engage with over 160 representatives from the freight sector at workshops in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington in late 2016.

    The purpose of the meeting was to identify the challenges and opportunities for transitioning the freight sector to low emissions by 2030.

    The presenters were Ken Shirley (Road Transport Forum), Peter Reidy (Kiwirail) and Steve Chapman (New Zealand Shipping Federation). They discussed how the rail, road and shipping industries are working together to create a smoother transition to a more integrated and efficient network.

    Sophie Punte from the Smart Freight Centre in Amsterdam shared some examples of collaborations on freight efficiency, which helped the workshop participants think about the best options going forward for New Zealand.

    The workshop organisers also asked attendees to describe the challenges and opportunities they face during the transition to a low emissions economy and freight sector. The insights were captured here.

  4. Advocacy on transitioning the freight sector to low emissions
  5. The Sustainable Business Council (SBC) was asked to share its insights from the freight sector engagement workshops with the Ministries for the Environment and Transport. SBC wanted to assess the government’s interest in the freight sector and how it can support New Zealand’s Paris Agreement target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels, by 2030.

    SBC and several freight group members have taken part in a meeting with officials from: Treasury, the Natural Resources Sector Support Unit, The Ministry for the Environment, The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and The Ministry for Primary Industries.

    Heavy transport was identified as a key opportunity area. There were also discussions about what might be required to work better and drive a number of initiatives that will create efficiencies and reduce emissions.