International cross border purchases are on the rise, as consumers purchase from companies across the globe. With this changing landscape comes a new set of challenges, and of course, an increase in the carbon emissions required to deliver a parcel due to the number and types of transportation required.
We have been quick in realising that to keep up with changing customer expectations, integrating sustainability into our business agenda is essential. We partnered up with Carbon Smart to fulfil our ambition of reducing our carbon footprint. The office was decked out with a sustainability initiative board, a herb garden had been planted in the plot of land outside, and employees have been quick to pick up on recycling initiatives.
Our analysis of our key energy sources showed our hard work had paid off internally, with our employees’ carbon footprint being 25% lower that expected for a company of our size and structure.
The real challenge for us was understanding and improving the sustainability of our network. Here, at wnDirect, we do not own our fleet and instead, we use an extensive network of the best in class carrier partners across the globe. To measure the carbon footprint of our network required engaging with each end every carrier, to understand:
- Exactly what route each partner was taking;
- Where their hubs were located;
- What type of vehicles they were using and;
- The tonnes of goods delivered via each route
We worked to gather the necessary data and quantify our delivery carbon footprint. We identified the key initiatives to reduce emissions and established how to communicate these results to customers. We began this process by mapping out our vast network, which operates globally.
After identifying our most significant routes, we worked with the delivery teams to set up an approach which would allow us to collect key data from both internal stakeholders and their carriers to calculate our carbon footprint.
From the analysis of our delivery carbon footprint we found that the most material territories, in terms of volume, contribute very little to the overall carbon footprint. The analysis of the carbon footprint of a parcel per territory showed significant variation, for example a parcel going to New Zealand has a carbon footprint over 200 times the size of a parcel going to France.
This helped us pinpoint key areas to look for opportunities to reduce our emissions. Focusing on destinations with the highest emissions per parcel we found that there were significant opportunities to reduce emissions by sending parcels via lower emission routes; either involving shorter distances via air or reducing the number of flights.
For some routes we are already using the most efficient method of transportation, for example using double decker HGVs for large trunking routes to Europe.
Where opportunities are not present for emissions to be reduced directly, we worked to ensure we can still offer sustainable solutions to customers, like offsetting their emissions.
These could include investment in renewable energy, bio sequestration or energy efficient projects.
With an increasing number of retailers selecting carriers based on their sustainability agendas it was crucial that we can communicate these results to customers and help them make sustainable decisions.
For example, by understanding where in its network there are opportunities to reduce carbon emissions, the data can be used to advise customers on the most sustainable routes, helping to expand sustainability initiatives beyond their own agenda.
To ensure all employees could be involved with our sustainability agenda we worked on developing a visual infographic to keep all employees and stakeholders engaged, rather than just presenting them with a report.
Since we have started this ECO journey, we have been acquired by Asendia Group, a company renowned for putting sustainability at the core of their business.
We believe this is a great opportunity for us to continue to thrive in setting a meaningful, sustainability agenda and are excited to continue our work in making the logistics retail sector sustainable and dynamic going forward.