Greener Skies Ahead: How going green can help your bottom line

For instance, sometimes a small change in hardware can make a difference, like Cargolux Airlines’ recent decision to partner with Trinkaus-Solutions to use its squAIR-timber product for lighter-weight pallets for its pharma shipments out of Luxembourg. Trinkaus-Solutions says that the beams have a load capacity of up to 10 tons, yet they are 80 percent lighter than conventional wood, thus allowing more payload and a lower fuel consumption of Cargolux’s aircraft.

Lars Syberg, Cargolux’s executive vice president of Global Logistics, estimated that the use of squAIR-timber has the potential to reduce its fuel consumption by roughly 1,200 tons per year, which also directly results in lower aircraft engine emissions. The replacement timber also “enables shorter build-up times, eliminating the need for forklifts.”

Katharina Tomoff, vice president of the GoGreen program at Deutsche Post-DHL Group, heads one of the pioneering sustainability programs in the logistics business. “We were the first international logistics company to announce a measurable climate target in 2008 – to improve our carbon efficiency by 30 percent by 2020, versus 2007 levels, which was a central part of our GoGreen program,” she said.

The program is based on a “holistic approach” to improving DHL’s environmental footprint. “We focused on two areas in our operations: ‘burn less’ – producing fewer emissions through greater efficiency in our operations and using less carbon-intensive alternatives wherever possible – and ‘burn clean’ – using greener technology, transport assets and fuels where possible,” Tomoff explained.

In March, she said, DP-DHL had already achieved its 2020 target by the end of 2016, four years ahead of target. “With this, we also announced a new, ambitious target of reducing our net emissions to zero by 2050. This was accompanied by four interim targets – to increase our carbon efficiency by 50 percent, perform 70 percent of first- and last-mile deliveries with clean transport, generate 50 percent of revenue from green products and services and certify 80 percent of our employees as green specialists by 2025.”

Working closely with DHL Supply Chain, Gatwick Airport, in the U.K., opened a new waste-to-energy plant, which would create a savings of about £1,000 per day in energy costs and avoidance of waste disposal fees. The Gatwick plant, built by DHL for £3.8million, came online in March and is the first such airport facility to burn “Category 1” airport waste, such as food, packaging and other organics to produce heat for the facility and power the airport’s water recovery system.

Last year, DHL also introduced emissions-free parcel delivery in a number of German cities, with the support of is customized StreetScooter electric delivery vehicles, Tomoff said. “This positions us well for the prospect that municipal authorities in many cities around the world may introduce restrictions on diesel vehicles in the future,” she added.

When FedEx released its 2017 Global Citizenship Report last month, marking its impressive progress in CO2 reduction, the company revealed another important sustainability statistic. The report said that more than $6.7 billion in fiscal year 2016 revenue “came from customers seeking information on corporate citizenship and carbon emissions data.” In other words, FedEx attracted customers specifically for its environmental stewardship activities.

“So much of this is customer driven,” said Panalpina’s Zingg. “One customers would not let us get to the costing phase unless we passed their green policy. That’s really news… You’re chosen based on sustainability. It’s getting to the point that this will be a real showstopper if you don’t do it.”

Demand from shippers will be the key to the long-term success of green initiatives, Tomoff said. “Talented millennials will want to work for responsible companies, and efficiency will also continue to generate direct cost benefits. Our view – and part of the rationale behind our 2050 target – is that those companies that can lead on environmental issues will be those that will lead on all other performance metrics over the next 30 years.”

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