When it comes to sustainability, Covenant aims to meet the company’s needs today without infringing on the ability of the next generation to meet their needs tomorrow. This commitment goes beyond the sustainability practices that Covenant has adopted internally but also includes ways the company can help its partners meet their own sustainability goals.
“We understand that the nature of our core business has an impact on the environment," said Covenant’s Matt McLelland, vice president of sustainability and innovation. "Covenant proactively seeks ways of minimizing this impact despite already meeting every requirement of federal and state regulatory agencies. Through research, testing new products, and making sustainability part of how to solve every problem, we are positioned to help our customers work towards meeting their sustainability goals.”
Introducing the Zero-Emissions Nikola Truck
As one example of how Covenant extends this value to its partners and clients, the company recently met with its long-time partner Sonoco to trial a proof-of-concept Nikola truck, a battery-electric truck. Though this zero-emissions hybrid vehicle only currently offers a range of 350 miles, the promise of what this technology can do for short hauls now and longer runs in the future is exciting.
During their trial, Sonoco leadership had the opportunity to ride aboard the Nikola truck and use it for short trips to experience the technology first-hand. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
“I think it is great that Covenant is being proactive and testing these electric truck models. It is going to be the wave of the future – moving away from diesel in transportation as companies look to meet their emissions goals. In terms of the ride, it was very smooth and quiet,” said Sonoco’s Elizabeth Rhue, vice president of global environmental, sustainability and technical services. “Anytime we can look to our supply chain partners to help us reduce our emissions, it further supports and enhances our overall efforts in emission reductions. It also fits well with our strategy of looking at what we can do in-house and where we can work with our supply chain to help them to help us meet our goals. It’s an interconnective partnership.”
“An important part of our strategy is to find companies like Covenant that are committed to helping us meet our scope 3 GHG emissions goals. If we don’t work with our logistics partners and focus on reducing carbon footprint that exist within our supply chain network, we will never reach our end goal. It’s very important for us to work on this together, Covenant is a great partner for us, and we are looking forward to seeing where this program goes,” said Sonoco’s Greg Munoz, vice president of global supply management and logistics.
Paving the Way for Sustainability Now and in the Future
The Nikola truck is just one solution that Covenant is deploying to help reduce emissions, both for the company and its partners. McLelland reports that a portion of Covenant’s trucking fleet is now using environmentally friendly, renewable diesel and has adopted the use of innovative AUX battery units that significantly reduce emissions during idle periods. Additional use of Electric Auxiliary Power Units (EAPUs) allows drivers to operate air-conditioning, heating, and electrical devices during rest cycles, dwell time, and at port entries without idling the truck engine for up to eight hours. These after-market devices reduce fuel consumption, offer driver comfort and significantly reduce greenhouse gasses.
In the past several years, Covenant has also committed to the following:
- TRANSTEX’s trailer skirts (in use since the early 2000s), which have reduced Covenant’s carbon emissions across its total fleet of 5,000 trailers by 114,194 metric tons. Additionally, the company has saved nearly $36M in fuel costs – a reduction that benefits customers and the environment alike.
- Aerodynamic technology, TruckWings, that further improves trucking fuel economy.
- A tire recycling program that has kept 600,000 lbs. of tire waste out of landfills.
- An investment in 150kw of solar panels that now generate 100% renewable energy for the company.
“Our sustainability efforts benefit not only our company and the environment but also our partners and customers. However, it’s clear that a single company can’t be a changemaker alone. We all must collaborate as an industry, which requires us to work together for the common good,” McLelland said. “When we band together, our actions have a greater impact. It’s the right thing to do for our industry, environment, and health.”
Click here to view Covenant’s 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.