DHL’s Era of Sustainable Logistics (EoSL): Driving Collaborative Change for Greener Global Supply Chains

DHL’s Era of Sustainable Logistics (EoSL): Driving Collaborative Change for Greener Global Supply Chains

Katja Busch, DHL Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Customer Solutions and Innovation on the company’s commitment to sustainability and the impact of EoSL

Published: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 12:33 PM

In the pursuit of a more sustainable future, the imperative for transformative change in supply chains has become increasingly necessary. Supply chains play a critical role in the global economy, influencing not only the production and distribution of goods but also their environmental and social impact.

In the dynamic landscape of global logistics, DHL has firmly positioned itself as a vanguard for sustainability. Embracing a bold commitment, the leader in global logistics is steadfast in its pursuit of achieving net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050. DHL has embarked on a comprehensive approach in offering sustainable logistics services with the provision of carbon offsetting solutions for air, road, and sea transportation.

Recognising the urgency of collective action, DHL acknowledges that collaboration is the linchpin for driving meaningful change. To foster this collaboration, the company launched the ‘Era of Sustainable Logistics (EoSL)’, a visionary, thought-leadership platform that brings together decision-makers, key stakeholders, and experts to discuss cleaner, greener logistics. The launch of this platform took place earlier this year in Valencia, Spain, with over 1000 participants, marking a significant milestone in the company’s commitment towards its sustainability journey.

Recognising varied challenges and opportunities across regions, DHL has extended the EoSL platform to Dubai. Given the importance of the MEA region and rapid customer growth, EoSL’s presence in Dubai addresses unique regional needs, while aligning with the global discourse on sustainability, complementing the objectives of COP28.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

What accomplishments have you achieved with the EoSL platform thus far?

In addition to fostering discussion and collaboration, we also wanted to ensure that participants depart with an enhanced comprehension of sustainability and the complexities of air, sea, and road transportation – as well as its integration into their business practices. We were pleased to see the results of our survey after Valencia, which indicated a 98% high satisfaction rate with the content provided by the EoSL platform.78% of attendees indicated that sustainability has become a more crucial topic, and nearly half of the participants now consider their knowledge of sustainability as ‘advanced’ or ‘expert’, compared to one-third before EoSL in Valencia.

Why did you decide to have a EoSL in Dubai?

The Middle East is integral to our global operations, and Dubai holds significant importance as a key economic hub that is dedicated to sustainability. Additionally, with the U.N. Climate Summit taking place in this region, we were presented with an opportunity to align our sustainability goals with the Summit’s green agenda. With our DHL MEA Innovation Center’s presence in Dubai, we find it to be an ideal location and timing to bring together participants for discussions on initiatives for greener, cleaner logistics.

How would you summarise the Group’s sustainability milestones achieved thus far?

Our long-term goal is to achieve net-zero logistics-related emissions by 2050, and we’ve made substantial progress towards this goal. Our global delivery fleet now includes about 30,000 electric vehicles. Last year, we also secured over 830 million liters of SAF until 2026, and this year we have secured 668 million liters of SAF until 2030. Furthermore, we acquired 60 million liters of sustainable marine fuel in the previous year. In line with our dedication to environmentally friendly transportation, we will introduce up to 12 electric planes, specifically the Alice model, to our fleet. Additionally, more than half of our DHL Supply Chain facilities have achieved carbon neutrality, significantly contributing to our overall sustainability objectives. We also recently launched the DHL GoGreen Dashboard, which represents our latest effort to streamline greenhouse gas emissions reporting for our larger cross-divisional customers.

In what ways do your customers in the MEA region differ from those in other regions?

The MEA region is a rapidly developing market and a global trade hub, where customers have a proactive drive and an appetite for trying new things and embracing innovation. This is why we have decided to expand our innovation footprint with the establishment of the DHL MEA Innovation Center a little over two years ago. This facility serves as an ideal platform for engaging with customers and partners on innovation, addressing their specific challenges and opportunities. Consequently, it is a key space for discussions around sustainability at the EoSL here, in Dubai. We also offer the “Innovation That Moves” roadshows that have been conducted in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, and Morocco, allowing us to engage directly with customers in these diverse markets.

Could you share the notable achievements that the DHL MEA Innovation Center has accomplished in its two-year existence?

The DHL MEA Innovation Center has been a dynamic hub, hosting over 480 events with more than 6,500 attendees in the last two years. Last year, for example, we initiated the ‘Fast Forward Challenge’ at the DHL MEA Innovation Center for innovators and start-ups. This was then adopted across our other regions, globally. DHL is also actively involved in the UAE’s ‘Waste to Zero’ initiative. By advising customers on leveraging IoT solutions and data analytics, DHL aims to significantly impact waste reduction, particularly in transporting perishable goods and other sectors. Just this year, DHL Global Forwarding partnered with Enviroserve, the largest e-waste recycling company in the MEA region to revolutionize EV battery solutions.

What are some of the key technologies and innovations showcased at the DHL MEA Innovation Center that are shaping the future of logistics?

We feature trending technologies such as loT devices and tracking solutions for real-time visibility in shipments, while boosting supply chain transparency. We also demonstrate the integration of robotics and automation technologies to streamline warehouse operations, minimise human error, and enhance overall operational efficiency. Furthermore, we emphasize the role of big data analytics in empowering DHL to optimise demand forecasting, route planning, and overall supply chain management. One of the exhibits also explores blockchain technology, which contributes to improved traceability, security, and authenticity of transactions and documents within the logistics process. And lastly, the Innovation Center also showcases sustainable solutions, including eco-friendly packaging, energy-efficient transportation options, and other environmentally responsible logistics practices.

What expectations does DHL have regarding the outcome of COP28?

At this year’s COP, we urgently seek a decisive signal to intensify implementation efforts. We have invested ample time in deliberations and consensus-building targets; the time has now come for concrete actions to realise those goals. It is increasingly evident that the global efforts to fulfil the Paris Agreement fall short. DHL Group, a trailblazer in sustainability, anticipates agreements addressing the halting of emissions increase and a clear defossilisation roadmap.

Enhanced collaboration among politics, society, and businesses is imperative, as success in transformation hinges on collective efforts. This collaborative spirit extends beyond COP, requiring the development of structures and processes for sustained progress.

How do you perceive the role of the UAE government in supporting initiatives towards sustainability?

We have a very long-standing history of being the leading logistics provider within the Middle East, including the UAE. The UAE has consistently prioritised sustainability in its developmental strategies. It is the first Middle Eastern country to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the nation has taken a regional lead by announcing the Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative. Looking specifically at logistics, the government actively engages in meeting the evolving needs of businesses operating extensive fleets, particularly in middle-mile and last-mile delivery. A crucial aspect of this commitment is reflected in the Global EV Market project, a significant initiative to transition toward more energy-efficient vehicles. Here, DHL built the region’s first-ever EV and battery logistics hub, the DHL EV Center of Excellence – to offer customers in the region more flexibility and shorter turnaround times for their supply chain operations.

The UAE Government also backs its intentions with tangible actions, with a focus on expediting the country’s shift toward a sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation landscape. This year, we announced a new strategic partnership agreement between DHL Global Forwarding and Etihad Rail to further strengthen the sustainable freight offering within the UAE.

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