10 BNSF Shippers Earn Sustainability Awards

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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BNSF is recognizing 10 shippers with awards for sustainability achievements in 2023.

BNSF said its annual awards recognize “significant achievement” in supply chain efficiencies, sustainable technology implementation, sustainability leadership and partnership with other like-minded organizations, and investments in sustainable infrastructure.

And the winners are:

  1. Amazon: According to BNSF, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019 and committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. “Decarbonizing Amazon’s transportation network is a key part of reaching this goal and Amazon is investing in solutions across global, middle, and last mile to help reduce emissions,” the railroad reported. “This includes having rolled out over 10,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian as it works to bring 100,000 to the road by 2030 and investing in alternative fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuel and green hydrogen. Amazon has also helped establish industry initiatives designed to help scale more-sustainable solutions across aviation, ocean shipping, and trucking, such as the First Movers Coalition, Cargo Owners for Zero Emission Vessels (coZEV), the Zero Emissions Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA), and the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (SABA). To further support its work to decarbonize its operations, Amazon is investing in renewable energy and is on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of schedule. To date, Amazon has announced more than 400 renewable energy projects globally. When fully operational, these projects combined are expected to help generate enough clean energy to power the equivalent of more than 5.3 million U.S. homes. This work has resulted in Amazon becoming the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy—a position it has held for the last three years.”
  2. American Honda: Honda plans to launch 30 electric vehicle (EV) models by 2030 and aims for 100% of their vehicle production to be electric by 2040, according to BNSF, which noted that the company is also committed to supplying its global operations with 100% renewable energy by 2050. Honda is working with LG Energy Solutions to invest $4.4 billion to establish a new joint-venture plant to produce lithium-ion batteries in Ohio, and BNSF said it will be transporting these new electric vehicles, the first of which, the Honda Prologue SUV, will begin shipping in January 2024, followed by the Acura ZDX in spring 2024. “As a part of supporting Honda’s carbon reduction goals, over the past several months, BNSF, Greenbrier and Honda have also partnered to repurpose an existing fleet of previously underutilized Auto-Max railcars,” the Class I reported. “Originally born out of a collaboration between the three parties, these railcars have the highest load factor and efficiency among autoracks to create a steady loop that will deliver Honda vehicles across the United States.”
  3. Chevron Renewable Energy Group: Chevron in 2022 acquired Renewable Energy Group (REG), “significantly expanding its renewable fuels business and helping provide lower carbon options for transportation providers,” according to BNSF. “Through the acquisition, Chevron Renewable Energy Group is helping Chevron work toward its goal of having the capacity to produce 100,000 barrels of renewable fuels per day by 2030. As part of its broader sustainability efforts, Chevron is investing $2 billion in carbon reduction projects and $8 billion in lower carbon investments by 2028. Since 2016, it has also reduced its oil production Scope 1 and 2 carbon intensity by nearly 40% and their methane intensity by more than 50%.”
  4. CMA CGM: Employing 155,000 people worldwide, CMA CGM bases its sustainable development approach on three pillars: Acting for People, Acting for Planet and Acting for Fair Trade. As a part of its Acting for Planet pillar, CMA CGM is “committed to building a more sustainable model, relentlessly imagining Better Ways to fight climate change and protect our planet’s resources,” according to BNSF. “Objectives under this pillar include: achieve net zero by 2050, more than 100 ships in fleet using low carbon fuels by 2027, 100% low carbon electricity for CEVA Logistics warehouses by 2025, and preserving air quality and biodiversity.”
  5. Hereford Ethanol Partners/Friona Industries: Since acquiring its ethanol plant in Hereford, Tex., Hereford Ethanol Partners has implemented expansion and efficiency projects to increase the production while reducing energy demand and lowering carbon intensity, according to BNSF. Additional projects being pursued range from upgrading to renewable energy to adding carbon sequestration technology at the facility. Affiliate Friona Industries is also investing in technologies for beef production optimization and researching biodigesters of cattle biowaste with water recycling. The railroad noted that Fiona Industries is “transforming the agricultural benchmark with leading practices for environmental, social and governance (ESG) in producing beef responsibly.”
  6. MAERSK: According to BNSF, Maersk continues to shape a “greener future” for global shipping with its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions across its business and delivering 100% green solutions for customers by 2040. In 2023, the company launched Laura Maersk and is expanding its fleet with 24 additional methanol vessels, which are scheduled for delivery between 2024 and 2027 and adheres to a policy of exclusively acquiring new vessels with green fuel options, BNSF reported. In addition to ocean shipping, Maersk is electrifying land-side transportation solutions, collaborating with customers to transition heavy-duty trucking to electric EVs powered by 100% renewable electricity sources, the railroad said. It is dedicated to meeting the Science Based Targets that align with the 1.5°C pathway by 2030, in accordance with the Paris Agreement’s objectives to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  7. Montana Renewables: A subsidiary of Calumet Specialty Products and located in Great Falls, Mont., Montana Renewables is said to be the largest producer of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in North America. It processes up to 15,000 barrels per day of renewable feedstocks into low-emission sustainable alternatives, such as SAF and renewable diesel fuel, that directly replace fossil fuel products. Montana Renewables has a multi-year SAF offtake agreement with a third-party, which then sells it to commercial airlines, according to BNSF.
  8. Nucor: Nucor is said to be the largest steel and steel products producer in North America and among the largest recyclers in the western hemisphere. “For more than five decades, Nucor has been built on the sustainable model of producing steel with a low-carbon footprint by recycling scrap metal into new steel and steel products through the use of electric arc furnace technology,” BNSF reported. “With its continued investment in breakthrough technologies to lower emissions across the supply chain, Nucor is committed to reshaping the industry by not only making steel more sustainably but enabling partners to reach their own carbon reduction goals.” Nucor in 2022 joined the UN 24/7 Carbon Free Energy Compact and is a founding member of the Global Steel Climate Council, a coalition advocating for “a single transparent global emission standard focused on steelmaking emissions.”
  9. Shell Chemicals: Shell has been involved in rail industry decarbonization efforts in such areas as renewable fuels and plastic circularity in both Europe and North America, according to BNSF. Earlier this year, Shell Chemicals provided circular butadiene, a monomer produced with plastic waste, to Bridgestone to enable the production of sustainable synthetic rubber, which was used in tires for the 2023 Indy 500, the Class I railroad reported. Additionally, Shell Chemicals is expanding its production of bio-based chemicals to meet customers’ sustainability needs at locations like its Shell Energy and Chemical Park Norco in Louisiana. Specifically, the company is using waste oils, such as used cooking oil and other renewable oils, to produce bio-based renewable diesel, which can also be used to produce chemicals like ethylene, ethylene oxide (EO), alcohols and ethoxylates. These chemicals are used to produce everyday products, such as laundry detergent, body wash, sunscreen, shampoo and household cleaning products.
  10. Unilever: According to BSNF, Unilever aims to reduce its emissions by more than 40% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2039. Globally, in 2022, the company reduced its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 68% against a 2015 goal and set the goal to deliver a deforestation-free supply chain by the end of this year. To achieve these targets, BNSF said, Unilever is approaching new processes across all aspects of its supply chain and increasing its use of intermodal. For example, at its Ben & Jerry’s plant in St. Albans, Vt., Unilever is building a new biogas renewable energy processing plant with PurposeEnergy that will treat up to 50,000 gallons per day of food waste and wastewater when fully operational. Across its facilities, Unilever will also reduce warehouse emissions by using less light-emitting diode (LED) lights, utilizing alternative fuels such as renewable natural gas and compressed natural gas, and deploying zero emission EVs, according to the railroad.

“We’re excited to build on the success of our Sustainability Awards program in 2023 to honor sustainable freight leaders,” said John Lovenburg, BNSF Vice President, Environment and Sustainability. “These 10 companies continue to achieve incredible success in their respective sustainability journeys and we’re proud to be a part of their freight solutions.”

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