Green Freight & Logistics

Enhancing road freight transport in the Philippines through national standards

Enhancing road freight transport in the Philippines through national standards

The logistics sector of the Philippines continues to improve, as evidenced by improvement in its Logistics Performance Index (LPI) world ranking from 71st (out of 160 countries) in 2016 to 64th in 2018. This indicates that the movement of goods in the country will further increase and this will result to huge increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if not managed well. A total of 58% of cargo traffic in the Philippines is from road transport and with better overall logistics performance, the increased cargo traffic will cause trucks to take up around 19% of the total emissions from transport (139.9 MtCO2e) by 2050 even though trucks only represent about 5% (380,000 out of 8.7 million registered vehicles in 2015) of the total road vehicle population in the Philippines.

The Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) understands that balancing economic growth and environmental impact is key to sustainable development for the Philippines. In May 2019, the DTI Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) has officially approved Philippine National Standard (PNS) 2135:2018 on Road Freight Transport. The PNS provides guidance on enhancing road-based freight transport based on four principles: reliability, safety, cost efficiency, and environmental sustainability. It includes recommendations based on good practices on vehicle fleet management, transport operation activities, and organisational and personnel management.

The Standard has been developed in 2018 by the BPS Technical Committee (TC) on Logistics (TC No. 84) composed of government agencies, truckers’ associations, freight forwarding companies, and other private sector representatives, civil society organisations and development partners. Recommendations from the PNS address various issues relevant to green freight transport and also in the context of a more holistic improvement of road freight transport including aspects of safety and overall efficiency:

  • Optimising payload: In 2010, the “Study of Masterplan of High Standard Highway Network in the Philippines” by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reveals that about 16% of trucks are overloaded. This not only cause issues on safety because of the early deterioration of roads and bridges but also on energy efficiency of the trucks as they consume more fuel beyond its optimum loading limit.
  • Reducing empty trips: About 79.4% of trailer trucks and 62.4% of three-axle trucks entering Metro Manila are running empty. These empty trips not only cause high freight transport costs (i.e., shippers are usually charged for two-way trips) but also consumes large amount of fuel for nothing. The PNS encourages use of platforms for load sharing and freight matching to reduce empty backhauls.
  • Improving vehicle fleet management: The PNS discusses about periodic vehicle maintenance and replacement to ensure safety and optimum energy efficiency, as well as route planning to reduce number of trips.
  • Collaboration and consolidation: Implementing this goes beyond each company but could be facilitated by the government or other third-party entities in order to achieve less freight traffic, less environmental damages and GHG emissions, better utilization of vehicle fleet, less space occupancy, etc. This includes having centralised logistics hubs with appropriate transport plans (inbound and outbound).

This Standard is seen to support and complement the existing relevant policies and programs (Anti-Overloading Law, Truck Modernization Program, etc.). While this PNS is only a voluntary standard, it is a great milestone for the Philippines who wishes to improve its overall energy efficiency while boosting its competitiveness through better trade and logistics. The country could move towards more stringent standards later, similar to the USA’s Clean Truck Standards that is expected to save 2 billion barrels of oil, provide $170 billion of fuel savings for truck drivers, and prevent 1.1 billion tons of CO2 from being released to the atmosphere. TC No. 84 is continuously discussing development of more standards relevant to logistics and consulting relevant stakeholders for inputs.

This initiative was supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the GIZ Project Transport and Climate Change (TCC).

Photo credit: Philip Brookes (Flickr)