A shipper can be defined as an entity that generates the demand for shipping goods. Shippers are either consignors (entities that supply the commodities that are shipped) or consignees (entities to which the commodities are shipped to). Green freight programs can include carriers as a key target group and assist them in improving the efficiencies and reducing the emissions from their supply chain by informing their choices in terms of engaging with shippers. The demand for greener freight performance is generated by shippers, and thus they play an essential role in green freight programs.

Shippers, particularly the large companies with high visibility and outreach, play an essential role in green freight programs, as they generate the demand for greener freight services. Shippers are concerned with supplying goods to different manufacturers and customers, as well as reducing costs and increasing profits through more sustainable operations and business practices and have the choice to engage with greener carriers, or can encourage their carriers and transport providers to adopt efficient technologies and strategies, thereby creating the demand for greener freight services. For example, the European Shippers’ Council was instrumental in establishing the Green Freight Europe Program which has become a platform for collaboration between shippers and carriers towards green actions in the sector.  

Multinational freight shippers are under increasing pressure from shareholders, customers, and insurers to reduce their emissions and mitigate the risks associated with higher fuel prices. Shippers would often like to select greener carriers, but they have little information on which carriers are greener. Shippers need reliable information on emission characteristics of these carriers, so performance benchmarking and freight efficiency data is important for shippers to be able to better optimize supply chain efficiency by selecting greener carriers and modes with possibly lower costs. Moreover, shippers need to subsequently report these performance metrics, including their emission footprints to their shareholders, so they would also need quantifiable information on various emission reduction strategies. There is a growing demand for ‘green freight and logistics’ but the demand is mainly concentrated in the big players. There is a need to reach out and raise awareness in smaller shippers in order to maximize the benefits of green freight programs.