ATS Transportation Blog

What is a SmartWay Certification?

SmartWay LogoThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was established in 1970 to protect humans and the environment from significant health risks by creating systems that output cleaner air, better-protected land and purer water. Today, the EPA is a driving force behind every U.S. environmental regulation and policy. 

As climate change progresses and reducing emissions becomes a focal point of climate policy, the EPA has taken an extra look at the transportation industry. And rightly so. According to the EPA, transportation is responsible for more than 50 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions and 20 percent of particulate matter emissions — two major contributors to poor air quality.

Established in 2004, SmartWay is the EPA’s response to the transportation sector’s emissions output. More than 3,000 carriers are SmartWay certified today, displaying their commitment to do better and reduce their carbon footprint going forward.

Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), is one of these SmartWay-certified carriers. Both our open-deck/specialized and vans fleets have held SmartWay certifications for years. Additionally, ATS Logistics — our freight brokerage company — maintains a SmartWay certification. 

As a shipper with products constantly moving, your freight must be in competent hands. Although most U.S. transportation companies are not SmartWay certified, if your carbon footprint is important to you and you’d prefer a partner committed to sustainability, a SmartWay certified provider may be worth considering. 

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what a SmartWay certification is, what steps transportation companies take to maintain one and why you should look for providers with this accolade. 

At its conclusion, this article will also leave you with a tool to use when selecting your next transportation provider. 

What is SmartWay Certification? 

A SmartWay certification is an accolade earned through participation in the EPA’s SmartWay program. SmartWay certifications can be earned by every party responsible for, or involved in, the production, distribution and transportation of goods within the U.S. 

This includes carriers, shippers, logistics companies and affiliates. 

By involving themselves in SmartWay, these companies are making a concerted effort to improve the sustainability of their supply chains by measuring, benchmarking and improving the efficiency of their transportation processes. 

Currently, there are two types of SmartWay certifications specifically for transportation companies:

  1. SmartWay for carriers
  2. SmartWay for logistics companies

SmartWay For Carriers

The EPA’s SmartWay certification program for freight carriers offers trucking companies the opportunity to benchmark, measure and improve their emissions, fuel economy and sustainability efforts. 

Registering as a SmartWay carrier demonstrates a company’s commitment to “doing better” going forward. Though the application process is very data-intensive, SmartWay certifications are an accolade many shippers look for in their preferred carriers. Additionally, the carriers registered with SmartWay receive insights and best-practice information directly from the EPA. 

Flatbed-Trailer-With-Wire-Coils

How Do Carriers Earn Smartway Certifications? 

Each year, SmartWay carriers submit a comprehensive list of emissions data to the EPA. Among other things, earning a SmartWay certification will require the filing of information such as:

  • Total loaded miles (revenue miles) past 12 months 
    • How many gallons of fuel were used? 
      • How many gallons of this was biodiesel?
    • What was the engine certification class of each vehicle used?
      • How many gallons of fuel did each engine certification class use?
      • How many miles did each class cover?
    • What was the weight and size of each truck/trailer at the time of utilization?
  • Total non-loaded miles (non-revenue miles) past 12 months
    • How many gallons of fuel were used? 
      • How many gallons of this was biodiesel?
    • What was the engine certification class of each vehicle used?
      • How many gallons of fuel did each engine certification class use?
      • How many miles did each class cover?
    • What was the weight and size of each truck/trailer at the time of utilization?

With this data, the EPA ranks carriers based on how their carbon and nitrogen emissions, particulate matter (2.5 and 10) output and fuel efficiency stack up next to other SmartWay carriers.  

Learn more about SmartWay’s Carrier Partnership program

SmartWay for Logistics Companies

Similar to the carrier certification, SmartWay for logistics companies allows these providers to take responsibility for the environmental impact of their duties and displays their commitment to improving going forward. 

SmartWay-certified logistics companies — which can be freight forwarders, freight brokers or 3PLs — assess and monitor the environmental impact of their carrier base while taking steps to ensure only the most efficient carriers move their customer's freight.

How Do Logistics Companies Earn Smartway Certifications? 

Logistics companies earn and maintain a Smartway certification by providing data on the carriers they used over the past 12 months. This will include information ranging from how many loads each carrier covered to the total fuel used for each shipment.

Learn more about SmartWay’s Logistics Company Partnership program

Semi-Truck-on-HighwayWhat Does Holding a SmartWay Certification Say About Your Provider?

More than anything else, a transportation provider’s involvement with SmartWay displays its commitment to making efficiency improvements in the future. 

Maintaining a SmartWay certification isn’t easy — it takes a lot of man-hours to compile data and the development of systems for tracking and recording the information necessary.  

That said, as the EPA’s environmental policy — as it relates to the transportation sector — continues to develop, more companies will make these investments. 

Today, SmartWay certification gives transportation stakeholders access to SmartWay training programs and improvement recommendations and places them among the most sustainable companies in the industry. 

Here is a list of the current SmartWay partners.

What Else Should You Think About When Choosing a Provider?

Selecting a transportation provider — be it an asset carrier or a third-party company — based on its sustainability practices is an apt strategy; usually, these companies make for great partners.

That said, several other factors should be weighed during this decision. Namely, each company should be tested on their. . .

  • Core strengths 
  • Technology usage and load-tracking capabilities
  • Infrastructure, financial health and overhead
  • Driver hiring practices
  • Track-record and reliability history

Understanding where each carrier falls in each of these categories will help you decide whether or not they are truly the best provider for you. 

In fact, this is so important we’ve developed a free checklist for you to utilize when vetting carriers in the future. Download it today and use these 30 questions to screen every carrier before adding them to your network. 

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Finally, ATS proudly holds itself to the highest sustainability standards. In fact, ATS Inc. (our dry van division) is a SmartWay Excellence awardee for its emissions processes and performance. So, if you would like to learn more about ATS’ commitment to sustainability, or wonder what adding ATS to your network could mean, don’t hesitate to reach out here.

Tags: Freight Brokerage, Asset-Based Carrier, Carrier Network

Steve Psyck

Written by Steve Psyck

As the director of equipment sales and procurement at ATS, Steve is responsible for purchasing new equipment in order to keep the ATS fleet in line with — and oftentimes ahead of — federal fuel and safety regulations. His team is also responsible for selling equipment that is being retired from the ATS fleet. Steve has been with ATS for three decades.

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