Home Truck News Shippers, carriers working together toward sustainability targets - Truck News

Shippers, carriers working together toward sustainability targets – Truck News

Ikea is a big-time, global shipper and with that comes big-time responsibilities to manage its carbon footprint.

But since it doesn’t run a fleet of its own, Ikea is leaning heavily on its transportation providers to help it achieve its emissions targets. Speaking on a panel of shippers and carriers at ACT Expo, Elisabeth Munck af Rosenchold, global sustainability manager for Ikea, said the company makes 1.7 million shipments a year, emitting about 1 million tons of greenhouse gases.

Ikea electric trucks
IKEA and Second Closet co-branded five tonne EV trucks. (Photo: CNW Group/IKEA Canada)

“That of course gives us a big responsibility, but also the opportunity to positively influence [transportation providers],” she said. By 2040, the company plans to use only zero emissions trucks for its road transport and vessels for ocean shipments. By 2030, it plans to have slashed its emissions per shipment by 70% compared to a 2017 baseline. It’s already achieved a 25% reduction.

“We know we need to do more,” she said.

On the other side of the coin are the shippers who will be counted on by major corporations to help them achieve their ESG targets. DHL Supply Chain has been an early adopter of clean transport technologies. It set out in 2014 to purchase 10,000 electric delivery vans, but was unable to find a supplier who could meet that demand. So, it built its own.

“We still have 20,000 operational today and over 35,000 electric vehicles around the world,” said Jim Monkmeyer, president of transportation with DHL Supply Chain.

Electric terminal tractors

It’s focused mostly on smaller vehicles, including terminal tractors. DHL deployed its first two electric terminal tractors in 2015 and has since deployed 70. It expects to have 100 in place by the end of this year. The company has also deployed electric and CNG-fueled Class 8 trucks.

Likewise, Sysco has aggressive emissions reductions targets. It is looking to reduce its CO2 emissions by 27.5% by 2030; a big undertaking since the fleet has 9,500 Class 8 tractors in the U.S. and another 2,000 box trucks, making it one of the largest private fleets in the U.S.

Sysco has 120 EVs deployed worldwide, including 100 Class 8 tractors.  The largest deployment is at its Riverside, Calif., flagship location where it has 40 electric trucks in operation and 40 permanent chargers installed to support them. Sysco is now turning its attention to its trailer fleet and how that can be electrified.

At Maersk, 140 electric trucks have been put into service to support its U.S. drayage operations. In 2023, they moved nearly 1 million containers, a number that’s expected to double this year.

Alternative fuel supplies

Another large private fleet is that belonging to PepsiCo Foods North America. David Allen is its vice-president and chief sustainability officer. The company plans to reduce its emissions footprint by 75% by 2030, before becoming net zero by 2040. Allen said the company is constantly assessing how it moves its freight – either via private fleet or third parties – to accelerate its decarbonization efforts.

But for fleets, “We’re having to initially make a lot of these investments ourselves,” noted Monkmeyer.

This becomes tricky since regulations and alternative fuel supplies vary across the continent. Sysco fuels 80% of its California fleet with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), something that’s too costly to source in other states.

“If that was an area we were able to take off and expand across the country, we’d definitely take advantage of that,” said Dan Purefoy, chief supply chain officer.

Monkmeyer said DHL is exploring a wide range of options, ranging from EVs to hydrogen and renewable diesel. “We have to, because we don’t know where the market is going,” he added.

Munck af Rosenchold said while shippers’ emissions demands must be “fair” to providers, she also noted, “We do not believe sustainability should come at a premium to our customers. Sustainability should be the default option. It should not be a luxury that only a few can afford.”

Costly equipment

The challenge facing fleets, however, is the zero emission vehicles available do come at a cost premium compared to diesel variants.

“The equipment is much more expensive,” said Maersk’s regional head of customer delivery for landside transportation, Javier Garcia Atique.

Monkmeyer said DHL has partnered with customers willing to share in the investment required to decarbonize their supply chain. The company tracks the science-based emissions reductions targets being tracked by big shippers and approaches those companies with options.

PepsiCo’s Allen said third-party carriers that align themselves with the company’s sustainability objectives could find themselves rewarded with longer contract lengths, or may be able to cost-share charging infrastructure at certain sites.

“We are seeing some good evolution there and also some really good ideas coming out of our supply chain partners,” Allen said.

DHL has begun incorporating emissions data into its bid tools, so it can educate customers on the carbon intensity of their shipments. “That has been eye opening with our customers,” said Monkmeyer. “Several have started to make selections based on that, paying more for carriers that have a lower carbon footprint. Others are eyeing it cautiously, saying ‘I’ll get to that.’”


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