On this episode of Net-Zero Carbon, Tyler Cole, director of carbon intelligence at FreightWaves, and Jason Gillespie, senior director of continuous improvement, innovation and engineering at DHL Supply Chain, discuss DHL’s sustainability initiatives.
“When we’re talking to our customers — my customers are the shippers — they’re saying they’ve got targets. They know that road transportation is a big scope 3 thing they have to worry about,” Gillespie said.
Scope 3 emissions occur along a company’s supply chain. DHL is facilitating that conversation with customers, and “there’s real financial and operational benefit” to being more sustainable, Gillespie said.
Cole said, “We didn’t even mention reduced fuel costs, which is probably the primary economic incentive for a lot of these carriers to make these changes.”
He said transportation and procurement in North America is moving away from just balancing service levels and cost. “We’re now going to add a carbon emissions or emissions component, and it’s going to be this three-lever system that you get to optimize.”
In Europe, where carbon markets are more common, that is more feasible in the near term.
Autonomous trucks can save fuel by driving as efficiently as possible. They also don’t need to keep the cab warm at night, so idling time is reduced. But there are hurdles to overcome, such as navigating different regulations and requirements in each state.
“Right now, we’re doing pilots of autonomous [vehicles], but we have to be very careful about where we do them and exactly which lanes are the perfect scenario right now to do the pilots,” Gillespie said.
He said the U.S. needs to be moving in the direction of autonomous and electric vehicles, and some infrastructure will be necessary for those things to take off.
Cole and Gillespie talked about how most autonomous trucks would still require a driver for the last mile of delivery, and it could be difficult to find drivers willing to sit in traffic for that last mile.
Measurement, transparency, reporting
Gillespie said his team at DHL is trying to more accurately measure carbon emissions, improve the transparency and reporting of the data and then reduce those emissions.
Having an accurate baseline for emissions is important for tracking progress. Cole and Gillespie discussed how the granularity of available data impacts accuracy and decision making.
“I think there’s a level of granularity worth getting at, and I think we have to keep working with our carriers on how do we get there? And what are they looking at?” Gillespie said.