Business leaders today understand the triple value involved in pursuing sustainable operating practices: global environmental benefits, improved business efficiency, and increased customer engagement. They understand that going green can help build a better world by reducing waste on every level, a move that can boost profits while appealing to a growing legion of environmental-minded consumers.
It is no surprise, then, that 75 percent of S&P 500 companies published Corporate Sustainability Reports in 2014, or that 93 percent of CEOs surveyed in a 2013 UN Global Compact – Accenture study viewed sustainability as important to the success of their business.
In fact, the work of measuring and analyzing corporate sustainability efforts has itself become important business, with the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), for instance, offering thorough assessments of the performances of leading businesses. Companies like Deutsche Post DHL Group, which in 2015 was once again included on the DJSI World and DJSI Europe, are selected based on economic, environmental and social criteria, and they collectively serve to allow investors to benchmark sustainability over time.
The best companies, large and small, are infusing sustainable business practices into the core of their organizations. For new start-ups, green standards are being written into the business plan, while established companies continue to re-order their business priorities to put sustainability initiatives near the top of the list. For most, a big part of the green agenda revolves around the supply chain, and that’s where global shipping and logistics experts like DHL Express come into the picture, offering green solutions to help reduce emissions and other environmental impacts.
Consider this: according to the World Trade Organization, in the last 30 years world merchandise and commercial services trade has increased about seven percent per year. In other words, more companies are shipping more goods to more places every day. To get products where they need to go, they are necessarily using more energy, additional packaging and more warehouse space. Given the amount of growth in global trade, it is only logical that conservation throughout the supply chain can deliver some of the most dramatic environmental benefits in the entire business equation.
Here are some steps your company can take to maximize supply chain efficiency:
Partner with care
This goes without saying, but if you want sustainability built into your shipping procedures, choose a shipping partner that has a proven commitment to green practices.
Efficient shipping involves multiple steps, from effective route planning to investments in green technology. Be sure to examine what demonstrated efforts your partner has made to reduce CO2 emissions through technology.
At DHL, for instance, we are establishing a truly green fleet of advanced delivery vehicles, including Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) trucks, fully electric vehicles and hybrid electric models. Just this year, we brought new LPG vehicles to Detroit, Chicago and Elizabeth, NJ, while introducing our next generation fully electric vehicles in New York and San Francisco. At our JFK and LAX gateways and other locations, we will soon deliver new compact electric vehicles.
Additionally, from 2013-2014, DHL introduced a telematics tool to all pick-up and delivery vehicles within its fleets. By leveraging GPS satellite location data and information from the vehicle’s on-board system, DHL is able to report extremely accurate vehicle activity and performance. The technology improves routing, fuel consumption, driver behavior and maintenance management.
Understand your packaging needs
While reducing CO2 emissions through transportation optimization is critical, there are other ways to lighten your supply chain carbon footprint.
While your shipping partner should offer sustainable packaging options, including packaging made from recycled materials, your organization should also review strategies that will minimize the use of packaging and packing material that may be designed to avoid breakage.
Keeping your products safe during shipping is key; after all, re-shipping is costly, uses additional energy, and inconveniences your customers. With this in mind, however, it is important to determine the minimal amount of acceptable packing material, and the smallest possible box or container. Like your packaging, your packing material should meet or exceed environmental standards.
Assess your supply chain impact
With the help of your shipping partner, you should be able to gauge your carbon footprint accurately. At DHL, for instance, we offer detailed Carbon Reports to track greenhouse gas emissions by shipping activity. We also offer a Green Optimization service to help your organization identify methods for reducing CO2 emissions along the entire supply chain, as well as carbon offsets through our Carbon Neutral services.
Achieving a level of sustainability that extends beyond mere slogans requires a careful analysis of your business practices, and a careful look at all of your business partners – both in your supply chain and beyond it.