Is Barge Transportation Environmentally Friendly?

Is Barge Transportation Environmentally Friendly?

Barge In a Lake

For organizations looking to support sustainable supply chains, barge transportation is a must. Now, more than ever, stakeholders and consumers are looking to spend their money on businesses that create sustainable consumer products and use strategies that reduce environmental impact from start to finish. By opting for barge transportation when and where possible, companies gain a competitive edge over those who are slow to adapt.

What Are the Sustainability Benefits of Barge Transportation?

Consider this: The capacity of one 15-barge tow equals 216 rail cars or 1050 trucks. While this helps demonstrate their reduced environmental impact, that’s just the beginning of the list of benefits.

There are many more trucks and railcars in use than barges, which means land transportation creates more liquid gas spills. This, in turn, increases pollution and the environmental impact. It’s safe to say that the inland waterways are underutilized and don’t stress road infrastructure. Also, they don’t cause emission-producing traffic jams, and they don’t cause industrial accidents (like rail transport could) that requires extensive, environmentally-taxing resources to clean up.

Trains run through cities and towns, trucks clog highways, but barges travel on waterways. Water transport typically happens far from busy, highly-populated communities and has far less impact on local populations. Barge logistics don’t require land either; unlike rail and truck transport, there’s no competition among municipal, government, or commercial developers to stake their claims.

Because there doesn’t seem to be a noise pollution problem stemming from barge transportation, there’s little data as to its effects. You can’t say the same for truck or rail shipping, and it can also be said about the difference between the three regarding air pollution.

Aerial Shot of Barge In an Inland Waterway

Optimizing Barges for Further Sustainability

On-barge technology like LED lighting adds up to make a significant impact on improving barge sustainability. Because LED navigation lights last longer than traditional marine lighting, they create less waste. They also consume less energy, cast a brighter light further into the distance to improve safety, and can be automated to be turned off when not in use. All of this contributes to the energy efficiency of barges, and if all barges adopt this approach, it can create a culture of barge sustainability across the industry.

Innovative new strategies to help make barge towboats and barges themselves more sustainable, engineers are leveraging renewable energy and alternative power sources. Solar-powered barges are being used to clean up the world’s waterways, both inland and coastal. Organizations are developing hybrid gas-electric barges to make their transportation fleets more sustainable. Even hydrogen-powered barges are in the works as the world looks to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Even waterway infrastructure growth can contribute to the sustainability of the industry. Improvements are overseen by groups and committees that ensure local ecosystems aren’t affected by repairs or construction. You can’t say the same for roadway infrastructure construction or the addition of railways, which directly impact life on land.

Aerial Shot of Barge In a Ocean

Let Our Team Help

If you’re looking to upgrade your lighting and increase the eco-friendliness of your fleet, let us help. Our team has extensive knowledge and experience in the range of LED options you can choose for an upgrade. We’ll compare your current lighting with brands like Phoenix Lighting featuring the SturdiSignal Series of Navigation Lights — designed and manufactured in the USA. Our sales team members are product experts and can help you configure the perfect marine lights for your needs. Contact us today!