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DHL Express Inks 800-Million-Liter Eco-Fuel Deals

DHL Express announced what the company sees as a significant step toward decarbonizing aviation logistics and being more sustainable.

DHL has confirmed new strategic collaborations with BP and Neste to provide more than 800 million liters of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to DHL Express within the next five years, with the new agreements forming one of the largest SAF deals in aviation to date. These deals, together with the previously announced SAF introduction in the DHL network in San Francisco, East Midlands (EMA) and Amsterdam, will exceed 50 percent of DHL Express’ target to reach 10 percent SAF blending for all air transport by 2026.

DHL expects the strategic collaborations to save an estimated 2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the aviation fuel lifecycle–equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 400,000 passenger cars.

DHL Express transports more than 480 million urgent documents and packages annually across its global network of 220 countries and territories. With the 800 million liters, the estimated 1,000 annual DHL flights on the route between Cincinnati and Leipzig, Germany, could be operated by Boeing 777s for 12 years, assuming a 100 percent SAF usage. This corresponds to 12,000 carbon neutral long-haul flights.

“The landmark SAF deals with BP and Neste mark a significant step within the aviation industry and validate the framework of our sustainable roadmap,” DHL Group CEO Frank Appel said. “Using SAF is currently one of the aviation industry’s key routes to reducing CO2 emissions over the aviation fuel lifecycle with currently available aircraft types.”

Martin Thomsen, senior vice president for air at BP, noted that as the company transitions to an integrated energy enterprise, it is leveraging its value chain encompassing feedstocks, global production, logistics and airport infrastructure.

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“Our ambition is to work even more closely with airports and airlines on decarbonization options, and we are promoting SAF at pace to support global aviation to realize its lower carbon ambitions,” Thomsen said.

In its sustainability roadmap, DHL has committed to using 30 percent of SAF blending for all air transport by 2030. Both suppliers will provide SAF produced from waste oils. Such SAF from wastes and residues can provide greenhouse gas emission reductions of up to 80 percent over its lifecycle compared with the conventional jet fuel it replaces, reducing DHL’s carbon footprint. To ensure that the fuel is sustainable, the use of feedstock that competes with food production or causes indirect land-use change is avoided.

“With every SAF deal, we are increasingly aware of the huge task that lies ahead in utilizing more sustainable solutions to help our customers,” John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said. “Not a day goes by without our customers asking us about low-carbon logistics solutions and to partner them in our joint aspiration to be part of creating a more sustainable future. The new SAF deals with BP and Neste are milestones on this journey.”

Person said the key focus is to inspire more SAF suppliers to address the current supply gap.

DHL Express aims to expand its partnerships with SAF suppliers in the future and continuously increase the SAF percentage in its air transport and support innovative technologies to significantly reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Other transport companies have made similar moves to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions of late. Last year, A.P. Moller-Maersk said in the first quarter of 2024, it will introduce the first in a series of eight large ocean-going container vessels capable of being operated on carbon neutral methanol.

As an industry first, the vessels will offer Maersk customers truly carbon neutral transportation at scale on the high seas. More than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers have set or are in the process of setting ambitious science-based or zero carbon targets for their supply chains.

In November, ocean carrier CMA CGM Group and Engie committed to working together to advance the sector’s energy transition by championing industrial-scale production and distribution of synthetic methane and liquefied biomethane (BioLNG). The partnership between CMA CGM and Engie will facilitate sharing of both groups’ knowledge and research and development, notably in key technologies such as carbon capture and green hydrogen production. The partnership also covers the analysis of future regulations, as well as efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of BioLNG and synthetic methane for the decarbonization of the shipping industry.

A non-fossil fuel energy source and a substantive commitment to the energy transition in shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) can reduce sulfur oxide emissions by 99 percent, fine particle emissions by 91 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by 92 percent, Engie said. The CMA CGM Group currently accounts for 20 “e-methane ready” vessels equipped with dual-fuel engines and running on LNG and will have 44 “e-methane” vessels by year-end 2024.