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DHL Tackles Sustainable Delivery, from Ocean Freight to Riverboat

DHL is advancing its sustainability agenda on a global and local scale.

DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight unit of DHL Group, said it will be neutralizing the carbon emissions of all less-than-container load (LCL) ocean freight shipments from Jan. 1.

In line with DHL Group’s “Mission 2050 – Zero Emissions” agenda, DHL is committed to fostering clean and sustainable sea freight transport. The CO2 compensation for all LCL shipments will be achieved by using maritime biofuels and utilizing existing and new partnerships.

“To fight against climate change, the transport sector needs true decarbonization,” Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, Freight, said. “For us at DHL Global Forwarding, sustainable fuel solutions are the key lever to change the fuel mix and ultimately reduce carbon emissions in ocean freight. This is why we have taken the decision to neutralize the carbon emission of all our LCL shipments. Even though we are in unprecedented times, due to the ongoing pandemic, we have to make sure that climate protection and sustainability efforts remain at the forefront.”

DHL noted that, at no extra cost to the customer, the heavy oil that would ordinarily be used is replaced with sustainable marine biofuel onboard a preselected container vessel to drive true carbon neutralization. The CO2-reduction benefits are allocated to the customer. In addition, DHL Global Forwarding has a GoGreen carrier evaluation program that allows the freight forwarder to give preference to carriers with strong environmental performance.

DHL has been exploring renewable fuels as an important lever to minimize ocean freights’ impact on the environment. Key criteria in evaluating the suitability of renewable fuels are that they are produced sustainably and do not compete with other needs, for example with food production for land use. Following strict sustainability standards, the waste-based biofuels must meet the requirements to be qualified as the cleanest biofuels currently available on the market.

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Based on the principles “Burn Less, Burn Clean”, the engagement within  DHL Group’s global GoGreen program also aims to optimize the carbon efficiency of the company’s transport network, fleet and real estate. This includes reducing energy consumption, increasing the use of renewable energy sources and fuels, and optimizing transportation networks, as well as pick-up and delivery routing. Transport subcontractors are encouraged to acquire low-emission vehicles and employees are educated to apply environmentally friendly thinking, through training and other activities.

On a smaller, local level, DHL Express has launched London’s first riverboat parcel delivery service, which aims to ease congestion and provide a reliable and efficient way of transporting deliveries across the capital. The innovative service has been introduced as part of DHL’s commitment to using blended transport modes to improve access to urban areas and is an important step toward exploring the use of the river for small scale freight transport.

“This year we will invest about 1 billion euros in our infrastructure for growing our global network and therefore further improve the quality of our customer business,” John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said. “Besides the renewal of our aircraft fleet and the expansion of our hubs and gateways, we are constantly looking for innovative solutions that help us turn our vision of ‘connecting people, improving lives’ into reality. This also includes new transport modes we’re bringing forward to reduce road traffic, carbon output and improve air quality. The riverboat is a fast, efficient and reliable way of utilizing a currently untapped access route into London and it is one of a couple of initiatives we are investing in, on our way to zero emission in 2050.”

The riverboat service, operated by Thames Clippers Logistics, will run daily at 7:30 a.m., transporting packages into London. The shipments will be loaded from electric vehicles onto the riverboat at Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier before traveling at high speeds along the Thames into central London, docking at Bankside Pier for final mile delivery on DHL courier bicycles.

DHL has shown the effectiveness of combining land and waterways through its established canal delivery network in Amsterdam and Venice, but the service in London represents its first high-speed service.

“With traffic and poor air quality becoming an increasing problem in urban areas like London, we’re committed to finding a better blend of transport,” Ian Wilson, CEO of the U.K.& Ireland for DHL Express, said. “This new and unique service, combining electric vehicles, riverboat and last-mile bikes creates fast and efficient access across the capital.”

The riverboat service is also part of the latest addition to GoGreen, DHL’s group-wide environmental protection program.