September 22, 2023

Covenant Logistics’ VP outlines strategies to meet emissions targets


This fireside chat recap is from FreightWaves’ Net-Zero Carbon Summit on Thursday. 

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: The challenge to meet emissions targets

DETAILS: Matt McLelland, VP of sustainability and innovation at Covenant Logistics Group (NASDAQ:CVLG), talks with FreightWaves’ Chief Economist Anthony Smith about the challenges enterprise fleets face to meet looming emissions targets. He also discusses the expedited world that consumers live in, explaining that receiving goods next day comes at “a carbon cost.”


About Covenant’s sustainability strategy: “For the last couple of years, it’s been interesting because a lot of our shippers were just getting their arms around what [getting to net-zero reduction of emissions] meant. So if I were to sort of rough sketch some sustainability or some numbers with electrification, you show that to somebody next to a diesel quote, and they’re just gonna say, ‘Wow, yeah, let me think about that,’ and you never get a call again. For others now, we’re starting to talk to some of the more progressive shippers that have goals and objectives that they’re really pushing their transportation buyers to be aware of … .”

“We do have some fleet initiatives to reduce idle percentage, always looking to increase miles per gallon.”

About states adopting California Air Resources Board (CARB) rules: “When you say CARB, it’s not just California anymore. I believe now it’s 17 other states that are going to follow CARB’s initiatives. So everything from inventorying in the state to following the same EPA standards and CARB standards are being adopted.”

About reducing carbon footprint: “We’re all really excited about playing a role in having a positive effect on the environment by changing our behavior, [using] bridge technologies, which are kind of ways to start making subtle changes starting today.”

About changing consumers’ mindsets: “I think that a lot of the expectations that we have, that we try to project on to the people that we’re buying goods and services from, we’re just going to have to change the way we think about the way we procure things. We just can’t always expect it to be here tomorrow. … The expedited world that we live in comes at a cost — a carbon cost.”


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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