Eco-friendly logistics solutions are not just good for the planet but also offer major cost benefits to carriers and their customers. That was the message from P&O Ferrymasters group environmental manager Pete Chivers at this month’s
UK-based Multimodal 2012 trade show, where he was a speaker during the three-day supply chain seminar programme hosted by European Shippers’ Council web portal The Shippers’ Voice.
"We are working with customers to achieve eco-friendly and cost efficient logistics solutions for sound financial as well as environmental reasons," he told delegates at a session on Green Freight Europe, a new multi-industry voluntary initiative to benchmark CO2 emissions from road haulage.
Chivers described the movement of goods as ‘essential to social vitality and economic growth’ but stressed this had to be reconciled against reducing emissions in an age when environmental sustainability was crucial to the industry’s long-term development.
"This requires collaborating with our customers on providing tailor-made solutions that take into account their market, their own cost objectives in supplying that market and the need to reduce their particular supply chain complexity," he explained. "The increasing challenge is to provide an effective and sound supply network that includes economic, environmental and social reasoning and low-carbon sustainable freight solutions."
Freight operators had already implemented improvements such as better route planning to reduce vehicle miles, less empty running, driver training and more efficient vehicles and fuels. But rising costs in a tough economy made it more and more difficult to take future investment decisions, so collaboration between all stakeholders was required to achieve further carbon efficiencies.
"We joined Green Freight Europe because we see it as a progressive initiative that includes not just other operators but, importantly, stakeholders who are producers, manufacturers and retailers – all of whom have an interest in improving the environmental performance of road freight transport in Europe," Chivers continued.
Making logistics more sustainable was complex but feasible if various elements were applied. This included having a single industry-recognised measurement system, setting ambitious but achievable goals and encouraging long-term supply chain strategy that minimised impact on the environment and economy
while offering a wide range of benefits. Typical solutions included reducing energy consumption, reducing the tonne/kilometre ratio of less sustainable transport modes and increasing the use of rail and inland waterways modes.
Chivers said that, although road transport would remain the dominant mode, P&O Ferrymasters was committed to the expansion of greener intermodal opportunities such as dedicated rail freight ‘green corridors’. Collaborative partnerships with customers had already prompted wider use of multimodal options that took advantage of the most appropriate mode to achieve seamless door-to-door service.
He revealed that, working with one major customer, rail had been identified as offering major cuts in carbon emissions even when handling increased volumes of traffic. So far this had realised a reduction of more than 21,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in the customer’s supply chain.
Green Freight Europe was officially launched in March and has since doubled in size to more than 50 members. The programme aims to develop, share and certify best practices based on a standard measurement and reporting system for CO2 emissions. A pilot stage is due in June ahead of a general launch in October. In the longer term it is planned to extend the scheme to rail and sea freight.
The European Commission has voiced support for the initiative as going a long way to help the European Union achieve its emissions targets.
P&O Ferrymasters is one of Europe’s leading logistics providers, offering tailor-made transportation, logistics and supply chain solutions. The company is part of P&O Ferries – which is owned by Dubai World – and employs 530 people at 26 strategic locations across 13 European countries.