Rio+20 Business Focus: DHL eyes up carbon savings through sustainable logistics

Politicians make the policy. But it’s often left to business to implement it. For this reason RTCC is featuring submissions from business across the globe in the lead up to Rio+20.

The aim is to demonstrate how Sustainable Development is becoming a reality on every continent, country and city.

In this article Deutsche Post DHL explains how it was able to cut 10% from its carbon footprint since 2008 and weave sustainable practices into its everyday operations.

With a company history stretching back to 1490, Deutsche Post DHL has successfully overcome many economic and political challenges over the past 500 years.

At the start of the new millennium, the Group acknowledged that the planet, its inhabitants and businesses face an altogether different challenge: climate change.

As the world’s leading mail and logistics company, we depend on fuel and energy to transport our customers’ letters and parcels, and to deliver a wide range of logistics services in over 220 countries and territories.

In 2007, the year in which we generated over 30 million tonnes of CO2, we developed plans to tackle our contribution to the causes of climate change.

In 2007, DHL generated 30 million tonnes of CO2 (© Deutsche Post DHL)

The GoGreen program, launched in 2008, sets the targets for our journey towards sustainable logistics.

The GoGreen targets

Deutsche Post DHL was the first global logistics company to set itself a quantifiable climate change target.

This target sits at the heart of our GoGreen program. Our goal is to improve our CO2 efficiency, including that of our transportation subcontractors, by 30% by the year 2020, compared to 2007 levels.

This means that by 2020 we aim to generate 30% less CO2 for every letter and parcel sent, every container shipped and every square metre of warehouse space used.

A 2012 interim target to increase CO2 efficiency for Deutsche Post DHL’s own operations by 10%, compared to 2007 levels, has already been reached.

Achievements so far

GoGreen is changing the way we do business. Here are some examples of what we have already done:

The company has worked on upgrading both their road vehicles and their aircraft (© Deutsche Post DHL)

Road and air fleet: We have spent hundreds of millions of Euros since 2008 to upgrade our fleet of road vehicles and aircraft. We operate over 4,000 environmentally-friendly vehicles worldwide including an all “green” fleet of 80 electric vans and 50 hybrid trucks in Manhattan, New York. Our fleet of owned and dedicated aircraft includes the Boeing 767 and 777 Freighters.

Products: Recognizing that logistics and transportation are often a large part of a customer’s environmental footprint, we were the first global logistics company to offer a carbon-neutral shipping service. We also offer customers the option of sea or rail freight.

Subcontractors: Third party providers of road and air transportation services are a special focus as subcontractors currently account for 80% of our total CO2 emissions. We are working closely with airlines and our road transport subcontractors to improve efficiency.

Employees: We have many programs in place to raise environmental awareness, increase knowledge of the GoGreen program and levers, and to encourage our employees to put that knowledge into action on the job and at home. One example is the “Save Fuel” campaign, started in Germany in 2008, through which van and truck drivers adopt fuel-efficient driving practices: Around 4.8 million litres of diesel had been saved by the end of 2010.

Making GoGreen work

Here are some of the reasons why the GoGreen program has been successful:

Strong link to the business: As our CO2 emissions result from fuel and energy use, improving efficiency directly benefits the bottom line. The fact that customers are increasingly looking to logistics providers to help them improve their environmental footprint guarantees management’s attention.

GoGreen criteria recognized as important: GoGreen and CO2 efficiency criteria are regularly reviewed, along with other business criteria, by managers and employees.

Top management commitment: The GoGreen Sponsors Board, the committee that oversees the global GoGreen program, is made up of senior executives and is chaired by the Group’s CEO.

Employees are encouraged to attend environmental awareness programmes (© Deutsche Post DHL)

Employees’ contributions recognized: Employees are, quite literally, the driving force behind our efforts to bring about change. We have invested in increasing our employees’ environmental knowledge, asking for their ideas, and we rely on their efforts to help make our company more sustainable.

Data transparency: The Group’s Carbon Accounting and Controlling program is fully integrated into our Finance organization. CO2 data are collected via the Group’s financial reporting systems, and afforded the same level of importance as financial data.

Integration into corporate strategy, policies and guidelines: Environmental protection and the goals of the GoGreen program are anchored in the Group’s Strategy 2015, as well as in the Corporate Investment Policy and the Supplier Code of Conduct.

This article is part of a series commissioned by the Rio Conventions for their RioPlus Business project.

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