For businesses looking to grow, improving sustainability can seem daunting. Working in partnership with suppliers can be the solution
Towards the end of last year, world leaders came together at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 to discuss the ways in which nations must work together to accelerate action to tackle climate change. As countries now sign up to the commitments resulting from the conference, and more global objectives are set, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to think about how they can move into 2022 with a more sustainable mindset.
Across DHL, we have been focused on hitting ambitious sustainability targets since we introduced our industry-leading programme GoGreen in 2008. We believe it’s our responsibility to use our scale and resources to drive positive change across our business, as well as our customers’ operations, and achieve our ultimate goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Over the past 18 months alone we have been able to make a series of investments that have made a real difference on the ground. The launch of our riverboat parcel delivery service in London has allowed us to reduce our contribution to congestion on the capital’s streets, with parcels then transferred to power-assisted bikes for fast and emission-free last-mile delivery.
Similarly, one of the most significant changes across the UK is the ongoing move to a fleet of electric vans, with more being added this year, all contributing to a reduction in emissions. We recently announced our investment in 12 fully electric eCargo planes, which is a significant step within aviation capabilities. In addition to this, our buildings are also an important part of our sustainability strategy and new facilities are being built to the highest required BREEAM standards.
Crucially, alongside the changes to our own business, GoGreen also allows us to support our customers on their own sustainability journey, no matter their size or industry. Leveraging the support of a business like ours is a great way for businesses to make significant changes in a manageable way, and we encourage everyone to consider making sustainability considerations part of their procurement process. More than 50 per cent of our top customers request the inclusion of responsible practices in tender processes, including climate protection measures.
In our area of business, recent growth in e-commerce means a high number of deliveries but often a lower number of parcels per delivery, which increases the need for solutions that minimise environmental impact. In the city, this means deliveries need to be quieter and greener in built-up areas, and in rural environments, this means managing electric vehicle range challenges and charging infrastructure.
To help customers with this, alongside decarbonising our fleet, we’re also helping to reduce the number of missed deliveries by increasing the number of service points and lockers that allow the end recipient to pick up or drop off an item at their own convenience. While this seems like a small change, reducing the number of repeat deliveries can have a significant impact on an e-commerce business.
Where it’s not possible to make immediate changes to operations, offsetting is worth considering. Our GoGreen products allow customers to understand the carbon footprint of their shipment and address this directly via our external, certified, Gold Standard climate-protection projects. We all know that sustainability is of increasing importance, with customers and consumers demanding eco-friendly solutions. With GoGreen, through packaging labelling, consumers know they’re getting a carbon-neutral service, which is a differentiating point for retailers.
Finally, when it comes to hitting targets, information is power. Our strict targets are supported by a wealth of data to allow us to constantly review our strategy, and we offer the same power to our customers. GoGreen reports give companies visibility of their carbon footprint from shipping and the option to offset via our programmes or their own.
There is no doubt that sustainability targets can seem daunting, particularly for businesses focused on growth. However, working with suppliers such as DHL is a great way to leverage partnerships to make significant and lasting improvements to operations.
By Ian Wilson, Chief Executive Officer UK&I, DHL Express