The moving industry has historically generated a huge amount of wasted energy, sent thousands of pounds of packing materials to landfills, and emitted an inestimable amount of carbon into the atmosphere. Fortunately, things are changing, and they are changing rapidly. In many ways, we are witnessing the greening of an industry. Today it is possible to pack with eco-friendly materials. It is also becoming possible to choose the moving company with the greenest trucks.
Here’s what you can look for when searching for a mover with green trucks and green habits with regard to the trucks.
1. Lift gates are powered by battery. This allows the movers to lower and raise the lift gate on the back of the truck without power from the engine. This makes it unnecessary to leave the engine running while loading and unloading, or starting the engine for a few minutes when the lift gate is needed. This saves fuel and reduces engine emissions.
2. The right-sized truck is always used. Companies with good estimators are able to determine the right-sized truck for the move. This allows packers to get everything on the truck in a single load without much space remaining in the truck. The smaller the truck, the less fuel is used in the move; while making a single trip saves fuel.
3. Trucks do not return to the garage empty. This is most important on longer moves. Ideally, the truck will pick up another move going from your destination back to the point of origin. Although an empty truck uses less fuel than a truck carrying a full load, every mile driven by an empty truck is an unnecessary use of fuel and produces unnecessary emissions.
4. Trucks use biodiesel fuel for a local or regional move. To date, no national moving company has taken the step of operating their fleet of trucks on biodiesel. The logistics of making this happen could be staggering. But for a local or regional move, biodiesel fuel can be used in trucks with diesel engines. You can look for companies that advertise their use of biodiesel. If you are moving yourself, you can ask the truck rental company if you can put biodiesel in the tank. To learn more about biodiesel, visit http://www.epa.gov/region09/waste/biodiesel/index.html.
5. Trucks have new hybrid engines. Since April 2009 some moving companies have begun converting their fleets to trucks with diesel-electric hybrid engines. The new engines improve fuel economy by as much as 30% (according to a spokesperson of the Kenworth Truck Company). “When the driver applies the brake, the transmission converts that energy to electricity and sends it to the batteries. When traveling under 30 mph, the truck uses a combination of diesel and electricity. Above 30 mph it runs like a standard diesel engine.” (http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/news-detail.asp?news_id=63041)
6. Trucks are equipped with newer, leaner burning, low-emission diesel engines.
It might take a little time to find a moving company with the most energy efficient trucks, because using biodiesel is still a new idea to many drivers and moving companies. The hybrid engines are still very new.  Knowing the options that might be available will give you the information you need to request the greenest trucks.